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Rockdale County sheriff's deputy hit by car, killed while directing traffic

It happened Wednesday night on Ga. Hwy. 138 at the intersection of Ga. Hwy. 212.

ROCKDALE COUNTY, Ga. — The Rockdale County Sheriff's Office has lost one of its own. 

Deputy Walter Jenkins, 54, was struck by a vehicle while directing traffic Wednesday night on Ga. Hwy. 138 at the intersection of Ga. Hwy. 212 when he was hit around 9:30 p.m., the sheriff's office said. 

They said deputies responded to the scene and observed Deputy Jenkins unresponsive. He was transported to Grady Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries. 

The driver of the vehicle, identified by the Georgia State Patrol (GSP) as a 16-year-old girl, was not injured and remained on the scene until units arrived. Deputy Jedidia Canty with the Rockdale County Sheriff's Office said they have reached out to the 16-year-old's family since the crash. Canty said another person was in the vehicle with the teenager at the time. 

A GSP spokesperson said the deputy was wearing a reflective vest directing traffic when the girl entered the intersection and struck Jenkins. 

"Please keep Deputy Jenkins’ family and RCSO in your prayers," the sheriff's office said.

Jenkins spent nearly half his life in law enforcement. Before joining the Rockdale County Sheriff's Office, he was a College Park Police officer for nearly 22 years. Canty said Jenkins had three children. He joined the Rockdale County Sheriff's Office in January 2021 as a member of its motor unit and transitioned to a reserve role recently. 

The Sheriff's Office has set up a memorial for Jenkins surrounding his motorcycle. Deputies also plan to fly their flag at half-staff in honor of Jenkins. Funeral arrangements have not yet been made. Several law enforcement agencies across the state have posted on social media, showing their support in the wake of Jenkins's death.

“He was a comedian. He loved to make people laugh," Canty said about Jenkins. "He had a contagious smile about him. It hurts. There are a lot of broken hearts here.”

The GSP said the crash remains under investigation. Any charges against the driver will come after the investigation is completed, according to Lt. Mark Riley. Riley said this incident should serve as a reminder to drivers to pay attention in construction zones and around emergency vehicles.

“Don’t be in such a rush that you think they’re motioning for you to come through," Riley said. "Make sure you’ve got that acknowledgment with the officer that they are indeed giving you that direction. Then when they do tell you to come through the intersection, proceed slowly and be cautious.”

A candlelight vigil will be held for Jenkins on May 16 at 7:30 p.m. at 911 Chambers Drive in Conyers.

Return to 11Alive.com for updates as we learn more about Jenkins.

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