Change Sheriff Abraham Vega's death to "Line of Duty Death" designation.
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The "Line of Duty Death" designation for Sheriff Abraham Vega has been DENIED by the Texas Association of Counties.
Lynn County Sheriff Abraham Vega died on July 11, 2020, due to complications from COVID-19. Sheriff Vega tested positive for COVID-19 the day after a colleague from the department also tested positive.
In the midst of the rage of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sheriff Vega dutifully continued to serve the citizens of Lynn County and Texas. Though he took every precaution possible, Sheriff Vega still had a job to do, an oath he swore to protect and serve, and he did that daily.
WHO IS ABRAHAM VEGA
Abraham served the citizens of Lynn County and the State of Texas his entire adult life. At age 19, Abraham began working in the Lynn County Sheriff's Department as a dispatcher. He went on to serve as the Jail Administrator, Chief of Tahoka ISD Police, Deputy Sheriff, and in 2017 at age 46, elected to his dream of Sheriff of Lynn County, Texas. Abraham also served as the President of the Texas Chief Deputies Association in 2016, and in 2017, was appointed to the Sheriffs' Association Cold Case Review Team. He was involved in every facet of the Lynn County community, always a servant. And in 2020, was re-elected as Sheriff of Lynn County.
On Thursday, July 23, 2020, Lynn County Judge Mike Braddock confirmed in an interview with KLBK that a "Line of Duty Death" designation had been denied by the Texas Association of Counties. Braddock is quoted as saying, "We cannot guarantee he acquired it [COVID-19] on the job." Braddock went on to say, "We were questioned, 'Was it in the line of duty?' We cannot guarantee that it was or that it wasn't."
A question to all those involved in the denial of this designation for Sheriff Abraham Vega...
1. Since there was a confirmed outbreak at the Lynn County Sheriff's Offices where multiple staff tested positive for COVID-19, and
2. Sheriff Vega still went to work and continued to serve his county while on-duty as he swore an oath he would, and
3. Another member of the Sheriff's Department tested positive, and the next day Sheriff Vega tested positive,
...How can you come to the guaranteed conclusion that he did not contract COVID-19 while on-duty? The job of first responders does not stop during a pandemic. They do not have the luxury of staying home. They can never be certain how or where they may contract such a horrible virus. They must press on, no matter what... and they do!
WHY IS THIS DESIGNATION IMPORTANT?
The "Line of Duty Death" designation was enacted by the Texas Legislature to provide death benefits for eligible survivors of certain law enforcement officers, firefighters, and others killed in the line of duty. These benefits include lump-sum payments by the state to the surviving spouse, children, or parents, state-paid funeral expenses, health benefits for the family, access to countless programs and scholarships, and so much more.
THE SOLUTION: REVERSE THE DENIAL
You may try to argue that no guarantee can be made that Sheriff Vega DID contract the virus while on-duty. You cannot also guarantee that he DID NOT contract the virus while on-duty. In Texas, the burden should NOT rest on the family of the deceased, a Texas Sheriff, but should rest on the commissions or associations to PROVE that Sheriff Vega DID NOT contract COVID-19 while on-duty. Short of this, and in light of valid and substantiated evidence that Sheriff Vega did contract COVID-19 while on-duty, the Texas Association of Counties and all involved should officially designate the death of Lynn County Sheriff Abraham Martin Vega to be a "Line of Duty Death."
In short, the surviving families of first responders should not have the burden to prove that their loved one died due to contracting COVID-19 on-duty.
Abraham's wife and two children will now never again hear the kind and loving voice of their husband and father. Abraham was taken away from us too soon, but he was taken away while doing what he loved to do. Regardless of what some commission or association may say, Sheriff Abraham Vega died a hero while serving the people he loved of Lynn County and of Texas.
"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."
Matthew 5:9, KJV
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