SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Just hours after being selected as Rookie of the Year, a Smith County deputy is killed in a car crash. DPS says 25-year-old Brandon Bennett ran off the road on Highway 64, east of Joinerville, early Thursday morning and hit a rock wall. The sheriff's office says Bennett was an outstanding deputy and will be greatly missed.
"This young man was well loved, he was well respected, and he was a bright light wherever he went," said Smith County Sheriff JB Smith.
His peers were the ones who made Brandon Bennett Rookie of the Year. And, he proudly accepted the award Wednesday night at a Smith County Sheriff's Department banquet.
"I think it was all based on his attitude," said Smith. "He was such a good guy. Good guy."
Smith says the ceremony ended around 9pm. Bennett went back to his father's house in Tyler, but woke up early to head back to Henderson where he lived. Just after 5 am, his car ran off the road and hit a rock wall.
"Witness said that it didn't look like he ever hit the brakes, that he just veered off the road and hit a solid stone wall," said Smith.
DPS responded to the accident and found Bennett dead on arrival. The sheriff said alcohol was not a factor in this wreck.
"That did not enter into it...the DPS said there was nothing like that involved in it,"said Smith.
The sheriff acknowledged that alcohol was present at the banquet, but reinforced it did not play a factor in this accident.
"It appeared that he had gone to sleep at the wheel and ran off the road," said Smith.
It's a part of the road that neighbors say is dangerous.
"This year has been just a rash of accidents - more than ever before," said Bobby Cook, the Associate Pastor of Church Fellowship International, whose building is nearby.
"Words can't describe how the officers feel," said Smith. "You just can't put these things into words. All we can do is deal with the tragedy [and] support this family."
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