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71-year-old Texas Deputy Struck by SUV While Mowing Lawn

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Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputy James Lee | Image by Jefferson County Sheriff's Office

A Texas sheriff’s deputy is dead after an alleged drunk driver ran him over while he was mowing his lawn on Saturday, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

At approximately 8:15 p.m., on July 9, 71-year-old Sheriff’s Deputy James Lee of Hamshire, Texas, was operating a lawn mower outside his house when 38-year-old Michael Miller of Beaumont, Texas, was apparently traveling at an unsafe speed in his Toyota SUV.

Miller allegedly rounded a curve on Burrell-Wingate Road and veered into a ditch, hitting and killing Lee.

A Justice of the Peace declared Lee dead at the scene. Miller was sent to St. Elizabeth Hospital for treatment. The extent of his injuries has not been released.

Miller was subsequently charged with intoxicated manslaughter and unlawful carrying of a weapon, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. His bond for the manslaughter charge stands at $250,000, while the bond for the weapons charge was set at $2,500.

There was no indication as of Friday that Miller had managed to post bond.

Lee served in the Fugitive Warrant Division of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. He first joined the agency in 1973 and, except for a brief leave in 2002, had worked there ever since. According to Jefferson County Sheriff Zena Stephens, Lee had no plans to retire soon, and Lee’s son was set to officially join the force on July 15.

“We don’t have a lot of 70-year-old guys working in law enforcement, but to look at Jim and to look at his production at his job, you would’ve never known that,” Stephens told 12News.

He added, “You don’t expect people not to show back up at work on a Monday because they got hit while they were cutting grass in their front yard … To die in that manner, a manner that could have been prevented or avoided, doesn’t make it easier. Makes it more difficult, I think.”

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