PARKER COUNTY — A North Texas community is grieving a great loss, just days before Christmas. But with their grief comes a gift for families they may never know.
Parker County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Rusty Arnold was killed when his vehicle was struck from behind last week.
His wife was forced to make a decision no one ever wants to tackle. She decided to donate his organs, granting Arnold's last gift — to help others in need.
Sgt. Arnold was considered compassionate and confident. Everyone trusted him and looked up to him.
Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler said it is the his first loss in the six years he's been in charge. "The loss to the department is devastating," he said.
Sgt. Arnold wore a Parker County Sheriff's Office uniform for nine years and his career was just starting to take off.
"Last week, I was transferring him into the CID division, which is criminal investigations, and his wife had started a brand-new job... she's a nurse," Fowler said.
Just as things were looking up, the 29-year-old's life ended abruptly at the intersection of Highway 199 and FM 2257 in Springtown.
"He was sitting at red light ... a truck came and ran into the back of him and the whiplash caused the brain damage," Fowler said.
Sgt. Arnold's wife made the tough decision to remove him from life support on Tuesday, one week after the accident — leaving their toddler questioning why his hero will not be around for any more holidays.
Prayers are pouring in on a Web site created in Arnold's honor.
"He never met a stranger," Sheriff Fowler said. "He was just that kind of officer."
As the flag flies at half-staff at the Sheriff's Office, fellow deputies remembered how Sgt. Arnold used to be in the huddle. His presence will be greatly missed.
The 63-year-old driver who hit Sgt. Arnold could face charges if it is determined that he was on his cell phone when he ran into the back of the officer's car.
Arnold was off-duty at the time of the accident. Funeral arrangements are pending.