Mississippi is mourning a police officer lost in the line of duty after the death of Johnny Patterson, a school resource officer in Lee County.
Patterson, who was also the assistant police chief in Verona, had nearly 25 years of experience on the job when he was gravely injured in an accident. He died in the hospital a little more than a week later. The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports that Patterson was staning in Highway 45 directing traffic as Shannon Primary School was letting out January 13.
Authorities say just before 3 p.m., a motorist hit the back of Patterson’s Lee County School District car, knocking it into Patterson. He suffered fractures of the neck and face, as well as major trauma to his chest and stomach.
MHP Troop F spokesman Staff Sgt. Bryan McGee told reporters that the driver of the other car stayed on the scene and has been cooperating with the investigation. So far, no criminal charges have been filed and no citations issued.
Patterson served as the Shannon Police Chief in the early 2000s. In the summer of 2015, he was appointed assistant chief in Verona.
Friends, family, and fellow officers were posting to social media over the weekend about how much the friendly veteran officer will be missed.
“You saved countless lives on the day you were blocking the right lane of traffic,” wrote fellow first responder Jonathan Williams. “Had you not been in the place you were at that time! It would have been children and others injured or killed that day!”
In keeping with a life spent saving lives, family members say Patterson’s organs will be donated.