Nassau County deputy 'died doing what he enjoyed,' father says
Nassau County Deputy Eric Oliver, 32, killed chasing undocumented worker
FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. – The father of a Nassau County sheriff's deputy who was killed in the line of duty last week says life without his eldest son will not be easy, but he will always be able to say he's proud of the life his son lived.
Deputy Eric Oliver, 32, was killed Nov. 22 when he was struck by an SUV while chasing an undocumented worker across a highway.
Oliver and another deputy were assisting a Border Patrol agent who had detained six people at a Gate gas station on State Road 200 in Yulee about 7:30 a.m. when one of the men ran. The deputies followed the undocumented worker on foot. The first deputy made it safely across the road, but Oliver was struck and killed.
"In a million years, I would never sit here and wish this on anybody," said Douglas Oliver, the father of the fallen deputy.
While sitting in his Fernandina Beach home Friday, surrounded by photos of his three sons, Douglas Oliver described the accomplished deputy, who joined the Sheriff's Office in 2009 after serving five years in the U.S. Navy, as a loving son and devoted father to his 6-year-old daughter.
"I worked over 30 years doing law enforcement work. I used to work the streets, and the last thing I ever thought I would be doing is standing there having this discussion with you, talking about the same thing I did and loved, and he loved it very much," Douglas Oliver said. "And here we’re talking about his death out there on the streets."
As Douglas Oliver continues to remember his son, he also expressed his gratitude for the law enforcement officers and community members who have provided him and his granddaughter with an overwhelming amount of support.
He said the 6-year-old is still coming to terms with the loss of her dad at such a young age.
"She's 6 years old, and at 6 years old, I don't think she comprehends the full effect of what happened yet about her daddy. She loved her daddy. When you saw the two of them together all the time, she would be clinging onto him like a magnet, wouldn't let him go," Douglas Oliver said.
Douglas Oliver expressed immense pride in his son and the work he did to protect his community.
"The highest thing you can ever ask for a police officer is to die in the line of duty, you know; it’s the highest honor they can have. And if you’re going to die a death, that’s a great death and he died doing what he enjoyed doing," Douglas Oliver said.
The Eric James Oliver Memorial Trust has been set up at First Federal Bank of Florida, and all donations made will go to a trust for Eric Oliver's daughter.
Copyright 2016 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.