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Partner of killed Nassau County deputy still dealing with pain of loss

Garth Holton looks out for Eric Oliver's family

YULEE, Fla. – The partner of a Nassau County sheriff's deputy who was killed in the line of duty last year while chasing an illegal immigrant continues to feel the pain of loss.

Deputy Garth Holton was there when his partner, Deputy Eric Oliver, was hit by a vehicle while chasing a man across State Road 200 in Yulee on Nov. 22.

Oliver, a seven-year police veteran, and Holton had been called to help the Border Patrol, who were pursuing a man who was found to be in the country illegally.

It started as any other day for the deputies, but when asked to help border patrol, the two sprang into action. They chased Francisco Portillo Fuentes across busy State Road 200 when Deputy Oliver was hit by a vehicle and killed.

"When I heard it, I knew what happened," Holton said. "It was tough. It still is."

Oliver was respected and revered in this community; a man of morals. Holton said that Oliver, 32, was like family to him. 

"He cared about you," Holton said. "He did whatever he could to help you."

Now, Holton is looking after Oliver’s family, especially his 6-year-old daughter.

"She comes over, she plays with my kids, we go off, we do stuff," he said.

It’s difficult for everyone. The pain hasn’t gone away, but Holton believes his fallen brother lives on In the hearts of everyone he touched. 

Portillo Fuentes, the man Oliver was chasing, pleaded guilty to being in the United States illegally. He was deported back to El Salvador in December.


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