KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Loudon County is mourning after a longtime deputy was killed in a wreck on Interstate 75 on Thursday morning.

Deputy Sgt. Chris Jenkins was attempting to remove a ladder in the roadway when slowed vehicles were struck by a tractor-trailer that also struck Jenkins, killing him. The tractor-trailer struck two vehicles before also striking the Jenkins’ unit. The wreck happened around 7 a.m. near a bridge crossing the Tennessee River, about 7 miles south of Lenoir City.

Jenkins has served the residents of Loudon County since 2002, when he worked as a corrections officer. He was promoted to patrol in 2003, and became a K-9 handler in 2007. Jenkins earned Patrol Supervisor of the Year in 2017. He was promoted to corporal in 2018, and promoted again in 2019 to sergeant.

Jenkins was not the only member of his family to serve in the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office. His cousin, Deputy Jason Scott, was shot and killed in March 2004 when he was responding to a domestic disturbance call.

“Things like this can easily be secured and then Jenkins would be here with us,” said a spokesman for the Tennessee Highway Patrol at Thursday’s press conference.

Jenkins has worked with Loudon County’s K-9 unit, and in August 2019 he spoke about the loss of LCPD K-9 Officer Dagger and in 2019 Jenkins spoke when retired K-9 officer Diego died. Jenkins was also vocal about protecting K-9 officers in the field.

There were 4 to 5 people behind Jenkins who saw what happened, the department said. The driver of the tractor-trailer is cooperating and undergoing a blood draw as part of standard operating procedure.

Loudon County is asking for anyone who may have information on how the ladder came to be in the roadway, or any information related to the crash, to call 865-594-5800 and speak with CID Tim Southerland.

The sheriff’s office has shared a memorial with Sgt. Jenkins’ K9 Patrol Unit has been set up in front of the Loudon County Justice Center for those wishing to leave flowers and pay their respects.

The investigation into the crash remains ongoing.