It’s almost more than a community can bear. On Thursday, Peach County sheriff’s Sgt. Patrick Sondron, 41, was laid to rest after he and his partner, Deputy Daryl Smallwood, 37, answered a call in Byron on Sunday afternoon in a dispute that remains unexplainable. All we know is the suspect may have been upset because of neighbors riding motorcycles and four-wheelers in the area of his home.
Sondron died of his wounds that night. Smallwood would cling to life until Tuesday afternoon. Saturday, Southside Baptist Church in Warner Robins, the site of Sondron’s funeral, would fill again as services for Smallwood were held.
For all the different law enforcement agencies in the state and beyond, they are really one big family and when one of their brothers or sisters goes down in a situation many of them have faced, all feel pain, anger, hurt and grief. As a Middle Georgia community, we feel pain, too.
These two men, while answering the call to serve and protect, were also vital threads in our community fabric; part of what holds us together. The law enforcement community helps coach Little League and soccer, run food drives; they sing in our church choirs and show up to help even when they haven’t been asked. Most of all, like many in law enforcement, Sondron and Smallwood were loving husbands and fathers.
Now is the time for our community to wrap our loving arms around these two families. They don’t have to face the challenges of the future alone. The entire Middle Georgia community is here to hold them up. And that goes for all law enforcement. Every day these men and women go about their work of walking into situations where, at any moment, their lives could be in grave danger. They have to deal with people who are having the worst day of their lives — and in many cases, they have to do it — whether it’s a vehicle accident, robbery, murder or other type of accident or crime, professionally.
We are reminded in such times the dangers law enforcement personnel face, even in areas where such danger isn’t generally expected. We salute the service of Sgt. Patrick Sondron and Deputy Daryl Smallwood. They join Bibb County’s Investigator Anthony “TJ” Freeman, Riverdale Police Department’s Maj. Gregory E. Barney and Eastman Police Department’s Officer Timothy Kevin Smith who have lost their lives this year in service to their communities.