MAURY COUNTY, Tenn. (WTVF) — For nearly 20 years, Maury County Reserve Deputy Brad Miller served his community purely as a volunteer.
While trying to direct traffic around a construction zone Monday night, his patrol car was hit by another driver.
He died as a result. He was 68.
Now the community he loved is trying to show his family the same level of support.
"It’s devastating," said Craig Eilermann, owner of Flag World in Columbia. "We just have to pray for everyone involved and their families. That’s all we can do."
When something tragic hits a community like this, it feels like there really are no words. That is why Eilermann would rather show his support. He hung a thin blue line flag in front of his business as soon as he heard the news.
"It’s a memorial flag, you’re honoring that particular officer," he said. "This is kind of our little message that we support our police. We have always supported our police."
All over town, there were also flags at half-staff, showing full support of Miller.
"Make no mistake, he would have loved to have went home to his loving wife Kathy and his family, but it was in his DNA to put himself in that position to position himself to fill that gap," said Maury County Sheriff Bucky Rowland.
While Deputy Miller didn't make it home, Rowland says his sacrifice ensured other people did.
"Three of those workers on that scene yesterday, they said had Deputy Miller not been positioned where he was, they would have undoubtedly been struck and killed by the oncoming vehicle," said Rowland.
Miller moved from up north down to Maury County three decades ago for the same reason a lot of people have: to work for General Motors in Spring Hill. Sheriff Rowland told reporters that Miller never lost his Michigan accent, but was the perfect addition to this community.
"He would light up a room. He would lighten the mood," said Sheriff Rowland.
Miller served as a volunteer for the department just shy of 20 years, which is why his brothers in blue didn't hesitate to volunteer themselves to escort the reserve deputy as he began is final journey Monday night.
It was a powerful reminder that symbols of support can truly say it all, when trying to find the right words just won't do it justice.
"We support them to the hilt," said Eilermann.
"Words can’t express," said Sheriff Rowland, fighting back tears. "You just love one another."
Eilermann will offer thin blue line flags at a discount at his store Flag World for anyone looking to honor Deputy Miller.
As for the other driver who hit Miller, the Tennessee Highway Patrol says the investigation is still ongoing and a decision hasn't been made on whether that driver will face charges.
So far, funeral arrangements have not been set.