LEXINGTON, Okla. – Wednesday morning a Department of Corrections officer was killed when he crashed his car into a tree.
The accident happened along Highway 39, east of the town of Lexington.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says while the exact cause has not been determined it is possible that sleepiness played a role in the crash.
It is a potential cause those with loved ones working in that field say they are not surprised by.
A Department of Corrections officer, a husband, a father and a marine reservist, Ryan Peacock’s life ended Wednesday morning.
The wife of another officer said, “You could just tell he was an awesome dad.”
She says there is a lot of fear every day of what will happen to her husband either at work or as he drives to or from the facility.
She said, “If my husband comes home five minutes late I worry. He’s fallen asleep several times.”
The issue, she believes, is the extended shifts the officers are being forced to work.
Sean Wallace, with Oklahoma Corrections Professionals, said, “Pretty much every facility now is working 12 hour shifts because they don’t have enough staff to do three shifts of eight hour.”
Wallace is an advocate for DOC employees.
He said, “The problem is we are losing people and no one is willing to come take the job for the amount of money it pays.”
The woman we spoke with said, “My husband hasn’t been able to use an annual leave day for five years.”
She says workers are exhausted.
She said, “They’re not even permitted to take care of themselves when they need to.”
Corrections officials say it’s a staffing issue and until they can hire more officers the extra shifts have to be taken.
Wallace said, “It’s already a stressful job to begin with but it’s only becoming more stressful.”
Officer Peacock’s family declined our request for an interview.
The director of the Department of Corrections did address the accident in today’s board meeting.
He said Officer Peacock was a good officer and a good man whose service is appreciated and will be missed.