130 low water crossings remain closed in and around Austin. The situation could change at any moment. Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton lost a deputy in a low water crossing. He's sharing his grief to keep you from making the same mistake.
"I'm Sheriff Greg Hamilton. In September 2014, I lost one of my deputies at this low-water crossing."
In a public service announcement, Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton stands on a road newly re-named for Deputy Jessica Hollis who lost her life there. "Jessica Hollis had swift water training. She was even on our dive team."
Photos of Hollis' battered vehicle stuck on top of rocks along Fritz Hughes Park Road are shown. That day, Hollis was checking roadways for high water. It was early in the morning and dark. "Even with all this training and experience, she misjudged the water she saw, drove into the low-water crossing and lost her life. Her car was swept away by just a few inches of water."
The area is now marked by a granite memorial in her honor.
"Losing her has been devastating. Jessica's family, the sheriffs office family are still feeling the grief and pain of it. I don't wish this on my worst enemy. And I don't want you to experience this pain."
Sheriff Hamilton says it was difficult to get through the shoot. "It took several takes because it was was very emotional going back to that site and having to talk about it," said Hamilton.
But he persevered in order to follow through with a promise. "One of the things that I said after we located Jessica's body is that we are going to do everything possible to try and prevent this from occurring again," said Hamilton.
With the recent heavy rainfall prompting road closures, Hamilton felt this was the appropriate time to release the video. "We've had two officers in the last two days that have been involved in a car accident and I know that those individuals are trained to drive vehicles," said Hamilton.
Hamilton concludes his message with a phrase we've heard over and over, but this time he hopes we will make a commitment to abide by it. "For the sake of your life, and for the sake of those who love you, don't be a statistic. Please, turn around don't drown."
After what happened to Jessica, the sheriff ordered rescue kits and throw ropes for all deputies. When there is heavy rainfall deputies must wear an inflatable vest throughout their shift.