On-duty crash led to deputy’s death

Published 10:08 am Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Warren County deputy's car sit along Interstate 20 earlier this year. (Vicksburg Post file photo)

A Warren County deputy’s car sit along Interstate 20 earlier this year. (Vicksburg Post file photo)

The death of a Warren County Sheriff’s Deputy Tuesday was ruled to be the result of an on-duty car crash he suffered in a February ice storm.

An autopsy performed Wednesday revealed a blood clot that resulted from an injury in a Feb. 23 crash was the cause of death for Warren County Sheriff’s Deputy Johnny Gatson, who died Tuesday at River Region Medical Center. Gatson was 58.

Johnny Gatson

Johnny Gatson

“He was a very courteous and professional officer who will be deeply missed by his brothers and sisters in the sheriff’s office and by the citizens of the community,” Sheriff Martin Pace said.

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Gatson was southbound on Oak Ridge Road Feb. 23 when his vehicle struck a patch of black ice, left the road and hit a tree, Pace said.

“It was when we were just beginning to experience some icing conditions,” Pace said.

During the crash, Gatson broke his left leg just below the kneecap, Pace said.

“There did not appear to be any serious injuries at that time,” Pace said.

Gatson was treated and released from the hospital with a leg brace and a crutch. He was expected to return to work within a few weeks, Pace said.

At 4 p.m. Tuesday, Gatson was at home with his wife Deborah when he began complaining of shortness of breath. He went to lie down and within minutes became unresponsive.

She immediately called 911, but paramedics were unable to revive him. The couple had married in December.

Gatson joined the sheriff’s department in August 2013 and was assigned to the patrol division, Pace said. He was a 1977 graduate of Alcorn State University and spent 15 years in the U.S. Marine Corps.

“He was always the perfect gentleman,” Pace said. “His 15 years in the Marine Corps were reflected in the way he carried himself and presented himself every day.”

Gatson started his law enforcement career relatively late in life as a part-time Simpson County deputy before joining the Canton Police Department in 2012. During his tenure with the Canton police, Gatson graduated from Mississippi Delta Law Enforcement Academy in Morehead.

Services are pending with Lakeview Memorial Funeral Home.

Gatson is the first deputy to be killed in the line of duty since 2010 when David Lambert died as the result of a blood clot caused by a patrol car crash on U.S. 61 North.