Ga. deputy dies of flu complications after monthlong battle with the illness

ROCKDALE COUNTY, Ga. (WSB/CNN) - Deputies with the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia mourned with both a special memorial and a candlelight vigil days after their co-worker died of complications from the flu.

Investigator John Haynie, 27, died of flu complications after a monthlong battle with the illness. He was an 8-year veteran of the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office. (Source: Rockdale County Sheriff's Office/WSB/Cox/CNN)

Investigator John Haynie, 27, died Saturday after a monthlong battle with the flu. He was an 8-year veteran of the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office.

On Monday, his co-workers held a memorial for him, placing flowers and pictures on a patrol car.

“He was more than just an employee to me. He’s family,” Sheriff Eric Levett said.

Levett and others remembered Haynie as a man who could make friends in just about any situation with a smile and easy kindness that could move hearts.

The sheriff’s office held a candlelight vigil in his honor Tuesday night.

“I can only imagine when he pulled over someone and if someone used profanity towards him or cussed him out, he would just look at them, smiling. Everything that he done, he done it with a smile,” Levett said.

At first, Haynie, who beat cancer years ago, thought he had a simple cold, according to Levett. But that cold got worse. The sheriff’s office is now encouraging others to protect themselves against illness.

“We did not expect that this would become deadly,” Levett said. “But when you start feeling those symptoms, it’s important to go to the doctor.”

Haynie’s funeral will be held Friday afternoon.

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, five people in Georgia died from influenza in the week of Jan. 12.

Copyright 2020 WSB, Cox, Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office via CNN. All rights reserved.