BIGGS, Calif. - A correctional deputy was killed in a crash between a pickup and a big-rig truck at Highway 99 and West Rio Bonito Road east of Biggs early Friday Morning.
48-year-old Robert Jackson, who had been with the sheriff's office for six years following a 20 year military career, died at the scene.
"We have peer counselors available for our staff, we brought in one of our sheriff chaplains," says Butte County Undersheriff Kori Honea. "It's been a tough morning for us. We're going to continue to monitor the staff and make sure they're okay."
According to the CHP, Jackson was in his Chevy truck and on his way to work at the Butte County Jail when he pulled out onto the highway from West Rio Bonito Road. The southbound big-rig truck was unable to avoid the vehicle.
The jack-knifed big rig ended up crashing through a fence and into an orchard on the opposite side of the road. Somehow its driver was able to avoid injury and walked away from the crash.
CHP officers at the scene say he was doing the speed limit and perhaps even under it. They also say there have been other accidents at the intersection before.
"It's not abnormal to see collisions here at this intersection, I've seen a number of them here throughout the years," says Butte County CHP Public Information Officer Doug Garrett. "The visibility was good. There's some question about the fog but the visibility was such that it should not have been a factor. It's just one little mistake by a driver can cost you."
Undersheriff Honea says his department works as one big family and flags at the sheriff's office Friday were flown at half-staff in Jackson's honor.
"It's a very tough loss for us," he says. "The sheriff (Jerry Smith) and I went to the scene of the accident and then from that point went on and made notification to his family. It was very difficult as you might imagine."
Honea says Jackson has a son who is in the Navy, he's also been notified and is seeking emergency leave to return home.
Plans for a funeral are already in the works, and Honea says there will be a heavy sheriff's department presence when one is held.
Northbound Highway 99 was closed at East Biggs Highway and Southbound 99 was closed at East Hamilton Road for nearly 10 hours. Both directions of the roadway opened around 4 p.m.