HOUSTON - A K9 deputy with the Harris County Sheriff's Office was critically injured in a three-vehicle accident on the Beltway.
The accident occurred around 7:45 a.m. Tuesday and closed the westbound lanes of the North Sam Houston Tollway at Mesa Drive.
Officials said Deputy Jason Denham was on duty and driving on the Beltway 8 when he had to maneuver because of traffic in front of him and the accident occurred. At some point a Chevy Avalanche was rear ended and that SUV hit a Kia.
"At this point in time I'm unaware if he was on a call or en route to a call," said HCSO Captain Darryl Cole.
Emergency crews had to use the Jaws of Life to free Denham from his vehicle.
"There's extensive damage to patrol car itself officer had to be extracted from the vehicle," said Captain Cole. "As normal, his K9partner was extremely protective if him. Other K9 units had to make (it to) the location to remove the dog from the car."
Life Flight was called to the scene and transported the deputy to Memorial Hermann Hospital. Denham, a 10-year veteran with the department, was then taken into surgery in critical condition.
During a press conference outside the hospital, Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia said Denham suffered "severe trauma to the left side of his body."
"Doctors are very hopeful," said Sheriff Garcia about the Denham's treatment.
Garcia said Denham's wife is at the hospital. They are the parents of three girls.
Denham has been part of the K9 for cops program for about two years, Garcia said.
Officials said the dog, Sjors, was in good condition and taken to a local veterinarian to be checked out. Garcia said Sjors was "up and barking."
"The dog was secured and where he needed to be," explained Sheriff Garcia of the dog's placement during the accident.
Sheriff's deputies are at the hospital to provide support for the Denham's family. Sheriff Garcia said deputies are donating blood in the Denham's name and encourages the community to do the same.
According to officials at the scene, there were five people in the Avalanche. Two of them were taken by ambulance to Memorial Hermann Hospital. The other three passengers were transported to Northeast Hermann Hospital in unknown condition. The driver of the Kia was not injured.
The freeway lanes reopened at 11 a.m.
Deputy Denham is expected to require numerous blood transfusions as he makes his recovery. To help those efforts, the sheriff's office is holding a blood drive this Thursday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the Harris County Jail at 701 North San Jacinto. They're asking anyone who can donate blood to please stop by.
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