Arp residents and family members are mourning the loss of a police officer who died in a weekend car accident.
Johnson was traveling west with his two daughters, ages 14 and 7, just before 1:30 p.m., the report states. Both girls were uninjured in the accident and are in the care of their family, Arp Assistant Police Chief Craig Robinson said Monday.
“Richard was just an all around great guy,” Robinson said. “He was a great officer but to me and the chief, he was more than that. We were all three real close.”
Johnson, a Whitehouse native and Tyler resident, was naturally helpful and selfless, Robinson said.
Johnson drove out to the scene of the accident simply to assist other emergency responders.
“When he got there, he found the victims, they’d rolled their car into a creek or a river and Richard actually jumped in and got them both out,” Robinson said.
“It’s really hard,” he said. “Richard would do anything in the world to help anybody. It didn’t matter if you were a bad guy or what, he was always there to help.”
That’s a sentiment Arp school district’s superintendent said was shared by the students and staff.
“Even when he had to deal with them in what would be a negative situation, he handled it really professionally,” Superintendent Toney Lowry said. “Everybody here in the entire district thought the world of him.”
During the school year, Johnson served as a campus officer, interacting with the kids during extracurricular activities as well as during regular school hours.
In fact, Lowry said, he often went beyond his prescribed duties as a campus officer.
He’d travel out of town with sporting teams to help keep an eye on them and would walk the halls during testing time in his two-year tenure with the district to help keep things in order.
“He really became more than just an employee,” Lowry said. “He was really a part of our school.”
Lowry said the district has plans in the future to hold a memorial service for Johnson once the year it out.
In the mean time, counselors are available for students and staff who may have trouble dealing with the loss.
“They’re handing it about as well as can be expected under the circumstances. I’ve got a feeling we’re going to go through that grieving process and it’s going to be one step at a time,” he said. “Our prayers go out to his family and to our community as a whole because he was part of our school family and he will be missed.”