TYLER, Texas (KETK) – A Smith County deputy died after being struck by a drunk driver Thursday night while conducting a traffic stop, according to Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith.
Smith said the deputy, who was identified as 29-year-old Lorenzo Bustos, was with his training officer, 39-year-old Michael Skinner, when the back of the patrol unit was rear-ended by a 2017 Mercedes on Highway 155 near CR 1237 at a moderate speed while he was standing at the back of the car.
The deputy was “launched” under the patrol unit, according to Smith, and sustained two major head injuries that he succumbed to around 6 a.m. Friday morning surrounded by his family and law enforcement family.
The patrol car had two handcuffed individuals in the back of the unit from the traffic stop when the wreck happened. The training officer who was sitting in the front passenger seat at the time, sustained non-life threatening injuries and called emergency services around midnight, according to the sheriff.
Skinner has since been treated and released, and one of the detained individuals also received minor injuries that they were treated for.
Bustos had been with the department for about five to six months, and Smith said he was well-loved by the department. Thursday night would have been his last night of training, according to the sheriff.
“In his five to six months here he’s become to be very loved by his cohorts, coworkers and he was doing a great job,” Smith said.
Smith said he has spoken to the family of the fallen deputy. Bustos leaves behind three children ages 8, 5 and 4, as well as a wife.
“Please keep Deputy Bustos’ family in your thoughts and prayers as well as his extended Blue family,” Smith County Sgt. Larry Christian said. “Also, keep Deputy Skinner in your thoughts and prayers. No words can express the outpouring of love and kindness expressed by the citizens of our County, State and Nation.”
Daniel Nyenze Nyabuto, 21 of Grand Prairie, was arrested for driving while intoxicated and intoxication assault but Smith said there are plans to upgrade those charges to intoxication manslaughter.
“A DWI will kill someone as quick as a gun will,” Smith said. “We are strict on DWIs in Smith County, DPS is, all the local law enforcement are and this is the reason.”
Nyabuto has been transferred from the Smith County Jail to Gregg County and his bond has been set at $750,000.
Funeral arrangements for Bustos have not been set, and the body was sent to Dallas Friday morning for autopsy. The sheriff said the family will receive a check from the department as they cope with the loss.
Below is a video shared by Wills Point Police Department who witnessed the escort of the fallen deputy.