Stephens County, OK – Stephens County Sheriff’s Office K9 Tuco was killed in the line of duty on May 20, while he and his handler were responding to assist a citizen stranded by floodwaters.
The incident occurred at approximately 4 a.m., when K9 Tuco, a 3-year-old German Shepherd, and Stephens County Sheriff’s Deputy Matthew Brown encountered water across a low spot in the roadway, KTEN reported.
Deputy Brown’s patrol vehicle hydroplaned, flipped into the high water, and burst into flames, Sheriff Wayne McKinney explained.
Deputy Garrett Hunt, who was also responding to assist the stranded citizen, rushed to the aid of K9 Tuco and Deputy Brown.
Deputy Hunt dove beneath the water, and was able to shatter a window in the patrol vehicle.
“The other deputy pulled up behind him and the only reason my deputy is still alive today is because of the other one,” Sheriff McKinney told The Duncan Banner. “He went under the water and was able to get the deputy out of that car.”
Once Deputy Brown was freed, the deputies tried to save K9 Tuco, who was secured in a cage in the back of the patrol vehicle.
Despite numerous attempts, the flames prevented them from being able to reach him, the sheriff said.
Citizens and law enforcement officers from multiple agencies gathered with the Stephens County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday to honor K9 Tuco’s memory.
“It's not just those with two legs who were born with a soul and have the courage to wear a badge,” Detective Kevin Tyus said, according to KSWO. “Police K-9'S are special animals.”
K9 Tuco was born in the Netherlands, and joined the department in 2016. He resided with the family of his partner, Deputy Brown.
“These handlers get attached both emotionally and they are attached as a working partner, and when you lose a partner like that, especially under the circumstances it was, it's going to be a while before he gets through this," Sheriff McKinney told KSWO.
During the memorial service, Deputy Brown shared some of his favorite memories about his partner, and talked about how K9 Tuco had impacted his life.
"To some of you he just may be a dog, but to me his is family and will always be family," he said.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Stephens County Sheriff’s Office and Deputy Matthew Brown in the loss of K9 Tuco.