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Virginia Sheriffs' Institute
Supporting Virginia’s Sheriffs & Deputies

TAZEWELL, Va.  – A Tazewell County Sheriff’s Deputy – who also was a private pilot – died in the line of duty early Friday while aiding an investigation involving a missing teen out of North Carolina.

Deputy Shawn Hess, a six-year veteran of the force, was westbound on State Route 460 in the Cliffield area about 6 a.m. when his vehicle went through a guardrail and plunged down an embankment.

Sheriff’s deputies and the Virginia State Police spent most of the morning at the scene. State police have taken charge of the investigation, the sheriff’s office said in a written statement on the crash.

The office’s chief deputy, Maj. Chris Boyd, said in that statement that Hess, who was single, is survived by his mother. He also said that Sheriff H.S. Caudill met with the department during the afternoon, and a state police chaplain spoke with deputies and staff.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Boyd said Hess was responding to a request to assist in an investigation early Friday that began with a 4 a.m. emergency call to aid a teenager who had just given birth.

Police soon learned that the teen and a 38-year-old man in the home with her, were both wanted out of North Carolina.

The teenager was a missing juvenile from Lenoir, N.C.

The man in the home, Kenny King, of Lenoir, N.C., was wanted on rape charges.

King was arrested and taken to the Southwest Regional Jail in Tazewell, where he is being held without bond. He was charged with two counts of abuse and neglect of a child, and with being a fugitive from justice.

Town of Richland police and fire and rescue units initially were sent to the Crestview Mobile Home Park in Richlands to help a 15-year-old girl who was suffering a seizure. She had given birth to a baby boy just hours earlier.

Emergency responders arrived to find the mother in critical condition.

Police on the scene, after learning the identities of the two, began an investigation and seized several pieces of evidence from the home, including a 2000 Chrysler Concord. And, determining that there might be another location connected to the incident, the officers sought assistance from the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office and the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

Hess was responding to that call – traveling to the other site in question – when his vehicle crashed.

The teen mother and her baby boy were transported to the Clinch Valley Medical Center in Richland. The mother was treated there, then sent to the Johnson City Medical Center here she was listed in critical condition late Friday, police said.

The baby boy remains hospitalized at the Clinch Valley Medical Center, and is currently in the custody of the Tazewell County Department of Social Services, police said.

He is survived by his mother.