AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s been nearly three years since Travis County Sheriff’s deputy Jessica Hollis was swept away and killed by floodwaters during a major storm.
Her death had a direct impact on the entire sheriff’s office, but one former deputy, John Loughran, who was her supervisor on the night she died, says her death was so traumatic that it affected his employment with the sheriff’s office.
A Civil Service Commission hearing was held Wednesday to determine whether Loughran should be reinstated as a deputy, after being terminated in March. A room full of county officials spent nearly 10 hours Wednesday listening to the facts that surround the former deputy’s firing from the Travis County Sheriff’s Office.
Loughran served TCSO for 24 years before he was let go. During his time with TCSO, he volunteered on the SWAT Team for several years, and he volunteered on the Dive Team for 16 years. That’s where he got to know Deputy Hollis.
A sergeant at the time of Hollis’s death, Loughran was serving as her direct supervisor on the night she died. He says he tried to stay strong for his tight-knit platoon after her death, but eventually came to the realization that he needed help, too.
“I was taking care of all my troops for a year, and I wanted some time to take care of myself,” Loughran stated in Wednesday’s hearing.
In the past two years, the sheriff’s office says Loughran was placed on administrative duty, then administrative leave, twice as he coped with Hollis’s death.
Both current Sheriff Sally Hernandez and former Sheriff Greg Hamilton testified in Wednesday’s hearing, saying Loughran’s grieving was getting in the way of doing his job.
“At some point in time, you’ve got to move on,” Hamilton said, “Because we’ve got a job to do.”
Documents presented in the hearing showed that while the former deputy was awaiting a follow up evaluation that would determine whether he could come back from his second stint of administrative leave this spring, Sheriff Hernandez fired him.
One key witness wasn’t able to make it to the hearing Wednesday, so Loughran’s hearing is set to continue into August. County officials will meet on Aug. 17 to hear from the last witness and decide whether he’ll be reinstated as a deputy.