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Gov. Abbott orders flags at half-staff in honor of Smith County deputy killed in overnight wreck by alleged drunk driver

This is a developing story and CBS19 will update this article as more information becomes available.

SMITH COUNTY, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered U.S. and Texas flags to be lowered to half-staff in honor of the life and public service of a Smith County deputy killed after an overnight crash involving a man accused of driving intoxicated. 

Smith County Deputy Lorenzo Bustos, 29, leaves behind a wife and three young children after he died due to injuries in the Friday morning collision, Smith County Sheriff Sheriff's Office (SCSO) spokesperson Sgt. Larry Christian confirmed Friday afternoon. 

Deputy Michael Skinner, 39, was also injured in the wreck but was treated and released from the hospital, Sgt. Christian said. 

"Please keep Deputy Bustos’ family in your thoughts and prayers as well as his extended Blue family," Sgt. Christian said in a statement. "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."

In a Facebook post, Chapel Hill High School said that their "hearts are deeply saddened" by the loss of Bustos, a 2011 CHHS alumni. 

After a request from Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran, Gov. Abbott ordered U.S. and Texas flags to be lowered to half-staff. 

Gov. Abbott in his letter to Moran said flags may remain at half-staff through the memorial service or upon final interment, at Moran's discretion. Flags should return to full-staff the following day.

"The first lady and I extend our prayers of comfort to the Bustos family during their time of grief, and we urge all Texans to remember and honor Deputy Bustos’ service as a brave and dedicated law enforcement officer," Gov. Abbott said in the letter.

Flags were lowered to half staff Friday in honor of the fallen Smith County Sheriff's deputy at the downtown Tyler square and at the Rusk County Sheriff's Office (RCSO) in Henderson, where Bustos previously worked.

“I am deeply saddened by the sudden and tragic death of a Smith County Sheriff’s Deputy, who died while in the line of duty protecting our citizens,” Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran said. “I cannot express how deep my sympathy is for the family, and for the law enforcement community who mourn his passing most deeply. We issue fervent prayers of comfort during this time, and stand ready to do all possible for the family and for the sheriff’s office.”

Credit: Smith County

According to the Smith County Sheriff's Office, around 11:50 p.m. on Thursday, Bustos and Skinner were on patrol in the 14000 block of State Highway 155 S. and had performed a traffic stop with emergency lights activated on the patrol unit.

Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said the deputies had placed two occupants of the vehicle in handcuffs and put them in the back seat of the unit. Skinner was in the front passenger seat operating the unit's radio and on-board computer and Bustos was standing several feet behind the unit.

At approximately 12:15 a.m. Skinner, who was in the front of the vehicle, called emergency services saying Bustos who was outside the vehicle had been struck by a different vehicle. 

Skinner, as well as one of the original suspects, also suffered injuries. Bustos, who was outside the unit had been hit at "moderate speed" and was "launched under the patrol unit," according to Smith. 

Skinner removed Bustos from under the vehicle and discovered Bustos had severe head trauma. Authorities also said the occupants of the vehicle that struck Bustos were drunk.

Smith said Bustos was flown to a Tyler hospital, where he died in the ICU around 6 a.m. His body was sent to Dallas for autopsy. 

Bustos was in his last day of the "ghost phase" which is a part of SCSO training. He had been with the SCSO for about five months, Smith said during a Friday morning news conference.

"He became very loved by his cohorts and he was doing a great job," Smith said during the news conference.

Credit: Smith County

Skinner was taken to a local hospital where he was treated and released.

Daniel Nyabuto, 21, of Grand Prairie, has been arrested for intoxication assault, which will be upgraded to intoxication manslaughter. He was booked into the Smith County Jail before being transferred to Gregg County with a bond of $750,000. Nyabuto's passenger, who has not been identified, was charged with public intoxication.

Credit: Judicial Records

Smith, who became sheriff in 2013, says this is the first line of duty death during his tenure.

Bustos was a husband and father to three children (an 8, 5 and 4-year-old). A lieutenant has been assigned to stay with the deputy's wife until he is laid to rest, Smith said.

"We'll do everything we can to take care of them (the family)," Smith said. 

He encouraged community members to be in prayer for the deputy's family. 

"It's pretty much all we can do is to go to the Lord in prayer at this time," he said. 

Rusk County Sheriff Johnwayne Valdez told CBS19 that Bustos began his law enforcement career as a deputy in Rusk County. Overton Police Chief Bryan Pool was his patrol commander while at the Rusk County Sheriff’s Office.

Bustos also worked for the Henderson Police Department before coming to the Smith County Sheriff's Office. 

"The officers at Henderson Police Department are in mourning and extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends at their darkest and hardest time," HPD said in a Facebook post. "Deputy Bustos will forever hold a special place at Henderson Police Department."

Sheriff Valdez said this is a tough loss and his heart is with the deputy’s wife and children.

Smith gave a direct message against driving intoxicated during the news conference.

"Don't drink and drive - that's the message. A DWI will kill someone as quick as a gun," Sheriff Smith said. 

Highway 155 S. was closed in both directions as officials investigated the scene but has since reopened.

This is a developing story and CBS19 will continue to update this article as more information becomes available.

RELATED: DPS identifies victims killed in fiery Smith County head-on collision

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