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'Our hearts are broken' | HCSO deputy dies after clipping parked 18-wheeler on Tomball Parkway

The deputy's patrol vehicle appeared to be split in half due to the impact of the crash. He struck the back of the parked 18-wheeler with the front left of his SUV.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — A Harris County Sheriff's Office deputy died Wednesday after crashing into the back of an 18-wheeler that was parked on the shoulder of SH-249/Tomball Parkway near Spring Cypress, according to Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.

The deputy was identified as 27-year-old Robert Adam Howard. He has been with HCSO since 2019 and served in the department's Violent Gang Suppression Unit. It's unknown how long he has been in law enforcement.

"Our hearts are broken," Gonzalez said after announcing Howard's death. "We're devasted we are losing such a great teammate described as a workhorse ... described as having a great personality, funny and just outgoing."

Gonzalez said Howard was transporting evidence and getting ready to begin an operation when he clipped the back of the 18-wheeler. The impact of the crash appeared to have caused Howard's patrol unit to split in half.

Credit: HCSO

Video from the crash scene showed the entire left side of his vehicle jammed into the back of the big rig. The other part of Howard's vehicle was found on the side of the highway, completely mangled.

Credit: KHOU

Gonzalez called the crash "horrific" and "devastating" and said Howard showed no signs of life pretty quickly.

Credit: KHOU

The driver of the 18-wheeler has not been identified and their condition is unknown.

Who was Deputy Howard?

Deputy Howard has been described as a perfect man who protected not only the community but also the ones close to him.

His partner, Raymond Garivey, has worked alongside him for the past three years and said he was a proactive cop who loved putting bad guys in jail.

"Not only is it a loss for the family, (but also) for the citizens of Harris County. We need police officers like my boy Howard," Garivey said fighting back tears. "Just a phenomenal person. You know when we prayed together with the crew, you know we had to thank the Lord for allowing us into his life. He was just one of those type of people."

Garivey said Howard was a big guy who was about 6 feet, 5 inches tall and weighed about 320 pounds. He said when anybody would give him trouble, Howard would step up for him.

"My little protector," Garivery said. "I've had some terrible scenes where if it wasn't for Howard, I wouldn't be home with my kids."

Howard leaves behind a wife, two children — a 2-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old son — a mother, father, sister and his family in blue.

Gonzalez said when Howard left for work Wednesday morning, hours before the horrific crash, he played with his 2-year-old daughter.

"When we lose a deputy, it's not only a loss for the agency, it's also a loss for the community because we lost one more crime fighter ... one more hero that puts their life on the line every day," Gonzalez said.

Credit: KHOU

Howard's dad, Robert Howard, said his son stumbled into this law enforcement career, but it's a career he was destined for. 

"I always taught him growing up, if you enjoy what you do, you'll never work a day in your life. And he goes, 'dad you're right. I absolutely love what I do, I can't wait to wake up in the morning and go to work.' Matter of fact, he'd go in just for overtime, just to go," his dad said. 

Howard grew up in Jersey Village and went to Cy Woods High School, Gonzalez said.

A second HCSO deputy, who was riding on a motorcycle, was injured during Howard's escort to the hospital. That deputy was taken to a nearby hospital for their injuries. Gonzalez said they are expected to be OK.

Watch the latest update from Sheriff Gonzalez below:

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