It’s always a tragedy when a first responder dies in the line of duty. That tragedy is compounded when it happens around Christmastime — particularly if it involves the holiday itself.
Sadly, that’s what the family of Benton County, Arkansas, Sheriff’s Deputy Paul Newell will be dealing with this holiday season.
According to KNWA-TV, Detective Paul Newell was struck and killed by a truck on Dec. 17 during a Wreath Across America procession event in Bentonville.
“The accident happened Saturday morning before 7:30 on Walton Boulevard. Bentonville Police responded to the crash to block the area off,” KNWA reported.
NEW INFO — Benton County Detective Paul Newell identified as deputy killed during Wreaths Across America escort this morning.
— Lisa Brence (@theLovelyLisaB) December 17, 2022
The Benton County Sheriff’s Office announced the death on Facebook.
“It is with profound sadness that Benton County Sheriff Shawn Holloway announces the on-duty tragic death of Detective Paul Daniel Newell, 51 of Gravette Arkansas. Detective Newell was involved in a traffic accident early Saturday morning while escorting the Wreath Across America procession through Bentonville Arkansas, an organization that provides wreaths to Veterans Cemeteries across America,” the post read.
The statement noted that he began his career in law enforcement with the Sheriff’s Office in December of 1998, 24 years ago.
“He served as a Patrol Deputy, Patrol Sergeant, Training Sergeant, Lieutenant in the administration section and most recently Detective assigned to the Criminal Investigation Division. He was a certified instructor in numerous courses and placed a high emphasis on sharing his training and experience,” the statement read.
At a meeting of the Benton County Quorum Court on Tuesday, Sheriff Shawn Holloway memorialized the fallen detective.
“Our department is broken right now,” he said, according to KNWA. “Detective Newell was a great man, irreplaceable. His legacy will go on. He was an integral part of our agency for many year,s training just about everyone in some form or fashion in our agency. The things he has taught will live on beyond his years.
“We’re heartbroken right now,” he continued. “The men and women of the agency, we’ve had tragedies over the past few years, but I just ask for prayers for everyone that works there. For me as the lead, when I can visibly see the trauma and the hurt that’s going on, that means there’s a lot more going on than we’re seeing. We thank you for your support.”
In addition, Justice of the Peace for District 4, Tom Allen, offered a prayer for Newell and those he left behind.
“Lord at this time, I’d like to lift up the sheriff’s office and the jail and all the men and women out there because I know they are grieving,” Allen said. “Also we’d like to lift up the family of Detective Newell.”
The current and future governors of Arkansas also expressed their condolences.
“It’s been a tough week for our dedicated men and women in Blue,” tweeted governor-elect Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a former White House press secretary under then-President Donald Trump.
“Our prayers are with the family and loved ones of Benton County Detective Paul Newell who tragically lost his life this morning. May God bring comfort and healing to all those mourning his loss.”
It’s been a tough week for our dedicated men and women in Blue. Our prayers are with the family and loved ones of Benton County Detective Paul Newell who tragically lost his life this morning. May God bring comfort and healing to all those mourning his loss.
— Sarah Huckabee Sanders (@SarahHuckabee) December 18, 2022
Outgoing Gov. Asa Hutchinson, meanwhile, wrote, “I’m deeply saddened to learn Arkansas lost a member of the law enforcement family today in a tragic accident. My prayers are with Benton County Deputy Paul Newell’s family, the Benton County Sheriff’s Office, and the law enforcement community.”
I’m deeply saddened to learn Arkansas lost a member of the law enforcement family today in a tragic accident. My prayers are with Benton County Deputy Paul Newell’s family, the Benton County Sheriff’s Office, and the law enforcement community.
— Gov. Asa Hutchinson (@AsaHutchinson) December 17, 2022
It’s difficult to lose a family member at any time of the year, but Christmas is an especially hard time. But then, this is the reality the families of first responders face.
Yes, almost all of them come home safe and sound to their spouse and/or children, and we thank God for that. Yet, this danger, this horrible knock at the door, that’s what all law enforcement families dread.
Say a prayer for them this Christmas season. Say a few more for the family of Detective Newell. Rest in peace, sir.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.