WALLER COUNTY, Texas – The Waller County Sheriff's Office is mourning one of their own after a deputy was killed in the line of duty.
According to the Sheriff's Office, Loren Vasquez, 23, was responding to a water rescue call when her patrol car rolled into high water near FM 352 at Hoover Road and she became trapped.
Vasquez’s patrol car became airborne and landed upside down in a water-filled ditch, the Sheriff’s Office said.
According to authorities, responding deputies were not able to get to Vasquez. It was Vazquez’s third night alone on the job. She had just finished training.
Her exact cause of death is still being determined, police said.
Vasquez lived in Waller County with her parents and younger brother and was an active member of the Brookshire Volunteer Fire Department.
A community member placed a bouquet of flowers outside the sheriff's office Thursday morning as the flags flew half-staff.
Waller County Sheriff R. Glenn Smith shared a tribute post on social media that read, “words will never express what our office is going thru (sic), and we can only ask for your prayers … know that the blue line has heartfelt tears on it for our office.”
Shortly before the sheriff shared the post, video caught police saluting a body at Memorial Hermann Cypress followed by a procession to the medical examiner’s office.
Following the sheriff’s post, someone tagged the Waller County Sheriff’s Office in another social media post that read, “it never gets easy to hear sad news. May God grant comfort to the family, Deputies and citizens of Waller County.”
The post also included a Waller County Sheriff’s badge with a blue line across it, which is a tribute often used when an officer is killed in the line of duty.
After the post, the Waller County Sheriff’s Office also changed its Facebook profile picture to the badge with a blue line.
“I know there’s a lot of pain and we have a really great sheriff, a great team behind him and I just feel their pain today. I want God to be with them to bless them for healing, for strength,” said Waller County resident Celia Spedale.
In addition to being a deputy, Vasquez was also a firefighter with the Brookshire Volunteer Fire Department. Chief Lyndon Stamps said Vasquez had been with the department for seven months and was dedicated to serving both departments equally.
"Although she was very young, she had a drive and ambition about herself that was very unique," Stamps said.
Community gathers to remember Vasquez
It was a night to remember, to shed tears, but mostly to honor a life.
Nearly 200 people -- from family, to friends, to fellow law enforcement -- turned out in Brookshire for a candlelight vigil to pay tribute to Vasquez.
While her family is in deep mourning -- they felt comfort hearing the stories about Vasquez's sense of humor and dedication to her job.
"She was only there not even a year as a police officer and a short period of time she was gone," her uncle Francisco Cobio said. "But look at all these people that are here."
Vasquez only joined the Waller County Sheriff’s Office this past May. Her fellow deputies remember her in that short time as being someone they could task with the toughest assignments. They say she put her heart and soul into her job, including the night she died.
"It was a call, she never hesitated, she never thought twice, she went to it," Deputy Marcos Zepeda said. "To save somebody else's life. That's the person she was."
Although she spent only 23 years in this world, her comrades said Vasquez's legacy will last a lifetime.
"This job isn't easy," Zepeda said. "It takes a calling and Deputy Vasquez was one that had that calling."
Funeral arrangements are still being made. The Brookshire Fire Department said they will honor Vasquez by permanently placing her badge and helmet in the station bay.