BONHAM — Fannin County deputies, staff and community members met outside the sheriff’s office Wednesday night to remember one of their own who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
“I hope they just remembered him and know that we still care and miss him — that people keep him in their mind,” Sheriff Mark Johnson said. “For these younger officers, that they’ll remember what is that this officer paid with — the ultimate sacrifice by giving his life.”
Fannin County Deputy Rahamy Mitchell died in the line of duty 10 years ago, and that sacrifice was remembered at the annual vigil. With prayer, words spoken by Johnson, and “Amazing Grace” sung, the life of the gentle giant deputy was honored.
“He was classified as a gentle giant,” Fannin County Sgt. George Robinson said. “He was a big man like the sheriff said, but he was good at heart. He would be there and do anything in the world for you.”
While responding to a disturbance call in Leonard, Mr. Mitchell was killed in a one-vehicle wreck at age 38 on Jan. 7, 2007. The call for assistance came through at about 1:15 a.m., and Mr. Mitchell was on his way to Leonard. His vehicle crashed while traveling along State Highway 11.
In past Herald Democrat reporting of the incident, Texas Department of Public Safety officials said the investigation into the wreck indicated it was caused by a combination of speed and wet road conditions. Mr. Mitchell lost control of the vehicle near County Road 1553. The vehicle went through a curve in the road and ran off the north side, rolling several times. Mr. Mitchell was ejected from the vehicle and later pronounced dead at the scene.
“I don’t know how to express myself — the memories that I had with him because we were partners for quite some time,” Robinson said. “I’ve already said this before — in my 27 years of law enforcement, that was the worst night of my career.”
Deputies later found the crash site after Mr. Mitchell didn’t respond to the Leonard call. Robinson was there that night.
“You go to a call and expect him to show up, and he doesn’t show up,” Robinson said. “And then you have to go back and try to find him, and you find him laying on the side of the road with no life in him.”
Mr. Mitchell started working for the sheriff’s office in 2001 as a reserve deputy. In 2002, he served as a corrections officer, and the next year he became a full-time deputy. Mr. Mitchell was also a single father, and he left behind a son who was 16 at the time.
Robinson said Mr. Mitchell’s son meant the world to him, and Mr. Mitchell’s kindness was a defining characteristic of the man. He said Mr. Mitchel would be there for anyone that needed help.
Johnson said he always remembers Mr. Mitchell’s size — he noted he wasn’t fat but just big. Kind of like a big grizzly bear, he said. And the smile on his face showed Mr. Mitchell’s personality.
“I can still see that friendly little smile standing there, a big postured man, looking down at me,” Johnson said. “I’m a pretty good sized guy myself — smaller than I was back then.”
Johnson said he attended the funeral and something that stuck out to him was the number of young people who were there. He said a lot of people had a lot of respect for Mr. Mitchell. Johnson noted that plans are in the works to dedicate a section of roadway in Mr. Mitchell’s honor.
Robinson said by plaques on the wall, deputies remember Mr. Mitchell everyday when they go to the office. For Robinson, the memories of Mr. Mitchel and that ultimate sacrifice he made come rushing in each time he passes that spot on the highway.
“I pass by the location where it happened at — the memories flood you,” Robinson said. “You try to recall each and every moment I had with him. I wish I had every moment of that day left where we were together.”