Amelia, OH – Clearcreek Township Police Officer Jerrid Lee was killed by an impaired driver in a head-on crash on Monday night.
Officer Lee, 27, was traveling on Ohio 125 on his way to the gym for a workout before his shift at the time of the collision, WXIX reported.
At approximately 8:30 p.m., he was driving his 1997 Honda Civic westbound when 31-year-old Justin Watts crossed over the center line in a 2006 GMC Envoy, and slammed into him head-on, the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) said.
"It was a head-on collision,” a woman told 911, according to WLWT. “The guy was driving on the wrong side of the road in the black SUV. He was driving on the wrong side of the road the whole entire way down here.”
Officer Lee, a married father of two young children, was pronounced dead at the scene, WXIX reported.
He was wearing his seatbelt.
Watts was allegedly under the influence of drugs, which contributed to the deadly collision, troopers said.
He was not wearing a seatbelt, and refused medical treatment at the scene.
Watts, a career criminal with over 21 arrests since 2005, has been charged with vehicular homicide, aggravated vehicular homicide, and vehicular manslaughter.
His bond has been set at $1 million, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.
Officer Lee was a U.S. Air Force military police veteran who served tours in both Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
He was fondly remembered by Grant Career Center welding instructor Doug Ayers, who met Officer Lee when he attended the school.
“You just couldn’t ask for a better kid,” Ayers told The Cincinnati Enquirer. “He was the kind of kid you would hope for your daughter to bring home for you to meet.”
Officer Lee joined the Clearcreek Township Police Department (CTPD) as a part-time officer in August of 2017, and began working full-time for the agency in January of 2018.
"He just celebrated his one-year anniversary here and his 27th birthday," CTPD Sergeant Wally Stacy said. "He was one of our fine, young officers who was very hardworking and diligent in his duties in trying to keep the people of Clearcreek Township safe. He will be sorely missed."
Clearcreek Township Administrator Matthew Clark said that Officer Lee was committed to the citizens of the community, and called him a “dedicated young police officer,” WXIX reported.
“It was our good fortune to have known him for the relatively short time that we did…and our hearts ache for his family,” Clark said. “He will be terribly missed.”
“Police work was his life. That’s what he always wanted to do,” the fallen officer’s wife told Clearcreek Township Police Chief John Terrill, according to WXIX.
Chief Terrill said Officer Lee worked overnight shifts, and that he made it a priority to apprehend impaired drivers.
“There were not many dry eyes in the department…when it happened,” the chief said. “It’ll never heal…they’ll always be there.”
Officer Lee leaves behind his wife, Katie, and their children, Annabelle and Bentley, as well as his parents, grandmother, siblings, and many other family members, according to his obituary.
“He also leaves behind his best friend and K9 companion Mavi,” his obituary read. “Jerrid is survived by numerous good buddies from high school, the United States Air Force, and the Clearcreek Township Police Department. He will be greatly missed.”
Officer Lee will be laid to rest on Sunday.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Clearcreek Township Police Officer Jerrid Lee, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.