70ºF

Fallen deputy honored with painting

BAYTOWN, Texas – The mother of a fallen Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy received an early Christmas present Friday, thanks to a local artist.

Debhora Valdez’s son, Jesse Valdez, was killed in October 2014 after an intoxicated driver slammed into his patrol unit on East Wallisville Road. 

In September the driver, Kelly Jo Ivey, was convicted of intoxication manslaughter and sentenced to 60 years behind bars.

"He loved his job, he loved his community, he loved people and he loved working nights so that he could be with his son in the daytime," Debhora Valdez said.

Ken Pridgeon is a Baytown artist who paints portraits of fallen soldiers and now law enforcement members. After Debhora’s co-workers contacted him, he decided to paint a portrait of Jesse Valdez for the family.

"I guess I have a healing brush," Pridgeon said. "So we just try to put a little band-aid on their hearts and send them home to their mamas."

Friday afternoon Pridgeon presented Debhora Valdez with the portrait at the Baytown Community Center. It took him about seven days to paint the portrait, but only a second to melt Debhora's heart. 

"His legacy will live on in many ways and I'm really just shocked at this being shown to me," Debhora said.

Every stroke and detail will be a vision to cherish, not just for Debhora, but also for Valdez’s son who is now 12 years old. 

"Thanksgiving morning he said: ‘I know what I’m thankful for,’ and I said ‘What is that?’ He said: ‘I’m thankful my daddy is still here watching over me,'" Debhora said.

She said she doesn’t know yet where she plans to put the portrait.