Longtime Enterprise Police Chief Randy Boykin died Tuesday morning at a Jackson hospital after he was hit by a car earlier in the morning while he directed school traffic.
Clarke County Sheriff Todd Kemp said Boykin was airlifted by the UMMC AirCare medical helicopter out of Key Field in Meridian to University Medical Center in Jackson where he was pronounced dead at about 9:45 a.m. Jack Mazurak, a spokesman for UMC, said Boykin died soon after arriving at the facility's trauma center.
"This is just a terrible day," said Kemp, as he stood near the intersection of Highway 513 and River Road where the accident occurred. "Randy was a rock. He was a fine, fine officer, a good friend to a great many people. This just shows you the dangers we, as law enforcement officers, face every time we step out of our homes. He will be sorely missed."
Kemp said Boykin, 50, was manning the intersection directing school traffic and buses at about 7:30 a.m. when he was struck by a car traveling east on Highway 513.
Kemp said the woman driving the car was unhurt but shaken up emotionally. Kemp said Boykin's body traveled 38 feet in the air as a result of the impact, coming to rest on the centerline of the highway. No charges had been filed in this case as of late Tuesday.
"Randy was always diligent in wearing his safety gear and having his patrol car parked at the curb with the blue lights on," Kemp said. "He was out here every day there was school."
The Mississippi Highway Patrol is investigating the accident.
Kemp said he was at home, about two miles away, when the first frantic calls started pouring in to the 911 Emergency Dispatch Center. He said he and another officer were able to get to the scene in a few minutes and when they arrived they found chaos.
"I had an officer down in the middle of the road and traffic all over the place," Kemp said. "We had to try and get control of the situation as quickly as we could and get Randy the medical care he needed."
Kemp said when he went to Boykin's side he asked the downed officer how he was doing. Kemp said Boykin looked up at him and said that he was hurting a little bit.
"I told him to hang in there and we'd get the ambulance here," Kemp said.
Janette Doby had also run from her place of employment across the street at A&M Fried Chicken and BBQ to check on the officer. She said when she asked if he was OK he looked at her and smiled.
"He was always out there no matter the weather," Doby said later. "Good, bad weather, storms. It didn't matter to him. He was there to make sure the kids were safe."
Doby said the intersection is a dangerous one. She said with the time change, that time of the morning with a bright sun rising in the east, drivers have a hard time seeing through the glare.
"She came up over that hill and the sun was in her eyes," Doby said. "By the time she was able to adjust, she was on top of him."
While Boykin lay in the road and Kemp and other officers who were fast arriving at the scene were trying to sort out the traffic congestion, parents bringing their children to school and students who were riding the buses passed the downed officer. School officials at Enterprise High School quickly went into grief control mode in order to calm the students as best they can.
"We had an assembly and got all the students together to inform them that Randy didn't make it," said Mike Weathers, principal at Enterprise High School. "We tried to console them and we will continue to monitor their behavior in the coming days and weeks. If they need any of our help we want to be there for them."
By Tuesday afternoon the entire community of Enterprise was trying to grapple with the shock and sadness of Boykin's death. Social media sites were active with people from all over the state and elsewhere sending their prayers and wishes for the family.
Kemp said Boykin had been a part time deputy for his department since Kemp became sheriff in 2000.
Boykin was chief of police for Enterprise for almost 13 years. He is survived by his wife, Sandra, and two daughters, Amy Boykin Smith and Jennifer Boykin Pugh. Boykin had recently become a grandfather.