LOWNDES CO., GA (WALB) - The Lowndes County Sheriff's Office is mourning the loss of one of its own.
Lowndes County Deputy Chris Butler, 39, died Saturday when his patrol car struck a semi-truck and burst into flames. Neighbors who saw the crash attempted to rescue Butler from the burning car.
"I heard a big bang. I looked out the window and saw that a vehicle and a semi had collided in the highway," said Charles Miller.
Miller was one of the first people to the scene of the fiery crash. According to Georgia State Patrol, Deputy Butler was driving down Cat Creek Road around 8 Saturday night with his sirens blaring and lights flashing to respond to a domestic violence call. That's when the driver of a semi, Robbie Register, 29, crossed the center line of the road while attempting to make a right turn from Norman Hall Road.
"I immediately called 911. When I got closer to it, I saw that it was a sheriff's car," said Miller.
Butler's patrol car struck the front of the semi and immediately burst in to flames. Miller along with others quickly went into action to pull Butler from that burning car, but their heroic efforts would not be enough.
"The rescue truck pulled up but I couldn't feel his pulse no more," he said.
Butler was taken to South Georgia Medical Center where he later died. Now, Miller is remembering the life of the deputy tragically killed in the line of duty.
"I feel sorry for the family. My heart goes out to them," he said.
According to various Facebook posts, Butler had been a law enforcement officer for three and a half years, and became a full time patrol officer a year and a half ago.
He leaves behind a wife and two young daughters.
The Valdosta Police Department offered their condolences to the Butler family on Facebook Sunday morning. In the post, they called Deputy Butler a "great man" and a "perfect example of the phrase law enforcement is a calling."
GSP is continuing to investigate the crash. Charges are pending.