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04/21/04 - Anderson County

Sheriff's Deputy Hurt In 2003 Crash Is Fired

Fired without warning.

An Anderson County Sheriff's deputy, badly hurt in the line of duty is pulled from the department. It comes a year after Deputy Kyle Duren's patrol car was hit head-on.

In July, we showed you the long road to rehabilitation for Deputy Duren. With more than a dozen plates and screws in his legs and hip, Kyle's recovery has been slow and painful. Two weeks ago, Duren got a letter saying he had been terminated effective immediately -- and his wife and children would soon lose their health insurance.

Deputy Duren feels his termination is a slap in the face after working to keep his neighbors safe.

However, just after KLTV 7 started asking questions, things began to change.

Deputy Kyle Duren: "It's been crunch time ever since April 1st. There have been a lot of questions about what's going to happen."

What will happen? For the Duren's, it's yet another wound to this family. With just a letter.

Duren reads from a letter received April 9th: "Per our personnel policy, as of April 1st, you will no longer be an employee of Anderson County."

That mean's Kyle would be paid only 70 percent of his salary from worker's compensation. He would lose health benefits not related to the accident in one year. But his family, three children with wife Jennifer, and kids from a previous marriage, would be without insurance at the end of this month.

"We've got three or two and a half weeks to figure out what to do," Jennifer said.

The Durens say they feel like they're left out in the cold -- and have been for most of the past year. They say Sheriff Kenneth Buckhanan and Chief Deputy Mike Link haven't called to check on them, and haven't dropped by to see if things are all right. Those are things Kyle says should happen in this police brotherhood.

"The only time I've ever spoken with Sheriff Buckhanan and Chief Link was when we've gone to the office. As far as coming to see us or picking up the phone and calling us, it's never happen

The letter that changed their lives is constantly on their minds.

Jennifer: "None of this was our fault. It's not like we caused any of this."

Sheriff Kenneth Buckhanan responds: "I hate [Kyle] feels that way, and I hate that his family feels that way. We're very concerned about Kyle. He was a valued member of this department and he did an excellent job."

After we started asking questions, the hand dealt to the Durens was picked right back up.

Buckhanan: "We were abiding by our policy, now we find out there are another set of rules governing law enforcement."

While Kyle's accident injuries will be paid for life, the health insurance for the family will be reinstated. Kyle will also get his job back.

Buckhanan: "We want to take into consideration the Duren family, and I believe [their benefits will]be continued through the end of the year."

The end of the year now is the uncertain time. Sheriff Buckhanan was defeated in the primary election. It will be up to the new sheriff what happens after January 1st.

Until then Buckhanan says, "We're going to explore all avenues and do what's right for them and what's right for

The Durens' kids play as always, and now Kyle and Jennifer can breathe easier.

"It makes things a lot easier for us, and we thank KLTV for [asking questions.] Sorry it had to come to this," said Jennifer.

Kyle: "I'd love to go back to work. I wish I could."

One day, the doctors might give that okay. Until then, the Durens are relying on the brotherhood of officers, and the support of citizens to get through the most trying years of their lives.

Sheriff Buckhanan says he will call Deputy Duren and keep the lines of communication open. As far as Kyle's injuries, he still suffers from severe nerve damage doctors say may take a very long time to heal. And there's a possibility there will never be improvement.

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