ASHLAND CITY, Tenn. (WTVF) — Days after he was killed in a two-vehicle crash, the Cheatham County community continues to honor Deputy Stephen Reece.
Friends and strangers have been placing flowers and notes on a patrol vehicle as a memorial outside the Cheatham County Courthouse on Monday. His badge number 918 was also on display on a blue tarp across the vehicle.
The 50-year-old deputy was only with the Cheatham County Sheriff's Office for seven months when he died Friday afternoon, but his career in law enforcement across Tennessee and the Marines spanned for more than three decades.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol said Reece failed to stop at a stop sign on Oak Plains Road when a van hit him on Highway 41-A. Jose Vilchiz, the other driver, was hurt and sent to Tennova Sango but his injuries were non-life-threatening.
"It was hard to accept, and it still is," Eric Bacon, Reece's friend, told NewsChannel 5.
Bacon is a Metro police officer who worked with Reece when he was with the department. Their friendship became stronger when Reece moved into the same Pegram community. Both made plans to see each other Friday night and were in touch earlier that day.
"I was supposed to see him that evening at my house. I tried calling him later in the day and got no answer," Bacon said.
Like others, Bacon described Reece as a dedicated father who loved to serve others.
"Stephen was a person that had a heart bigger than you can imagine," Bacon said. "He had a heart of gold."
NewsChannel 5 spoke to Reece's sister a day after his death. She said he was a man who loved life, family and law enforcement.
Reece was known to love scuba diving and rescuing animals. His family asks if anyone wants to donate in his honor, to give the money to the ASPCA. Reece's funeral will be held at Cornerstone Church on Tuesday at 11 a.m. NewsChannel 5 will be in attendance to cover the memorial service.