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Woods, Waters and Wildlife

By John Jefferson Outdoor writer and photographer

Photo by John Jefferson
The late Ty Patterson becomes the first Texas game warden to have a segment of a state highway designated as a memorial in his honor.

Greater love . . .
I attended an unusual, but fitting, memorial dedication last Friday, in Seguin. Some might remember an incident in late May 2007 when a young Texas game warden drowned in the Paluxy River, near Glen Rose.
The warden being memorialized was Teyran Patterson, age 26. His many friends and most others called him “Ty.” He was only two years out of the Texas Game Warden Training Academy, and serving his first assignment in Johnson County.
A 16-year old girl was swimming with friends in the river. Around 5:30, friends reported her missing. Combined law enforcement agencies from several departments began a search. Ty and his partner, Warden Danny Tuggle, joined the search and brought their patrol boat.
The next morning, they were assisting the recovery efforts when their boat overturned in floodwaters. Ty and Tuggle somehow became entangled in ropes, and Tuggle was in eminent peril. Struggling himself, Ty was able to pull Tuggle over to the boat.
Somervell County Sheriff deputies, Fire, and EMS were there and dashed into the water. They got the two wardens out of the river and EMS immediately began treating Ty. Both wardens were rushed to the hospital in Fort Worth. Ty died shortly after arrival.
Game Warden Major Butch Shoop, regional law enforcement director in Fort Worth, commended the swift and effective actions of all who assisted, and credited them with saving Tuggle.
At the dedication Friday, Tuggle said Ty’s unselfish efforts to help him when Ty, himself, was in danger, saved his life. Wardens have each other’s backs.
A length of Highway 123, running north and south through Seguin, was dedicated as a memorial to Ty Patterson. He is the first Texas game warden to be so honored. Several hundred of Ty’s friends, family, and game warden colleagues attended the dedication. State Senator Judith Zaffirini, State Representative John Kuemple, TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith, TPWD Law Enforcement Director, Grahame Jones, and Ty’s father, Joe Patterson, spoke at the event, as did others. The last speaker was Danny Tuggle. When he finished, Tuggle and another unveiled the highway sign, pictured above.
Swift water rescue is one of the many dangerous game warden duties. Every large storm creates new challenges. They performed roughly 12,000 rescues after Hurricane Harvey.
To date, 19 wardens have died or been killed on duty. Five have drowned. One warden stopped on the roadside to help a woman during a violent domestic altercation, and was dragged to his death by the aggressor’s car. Due to their equipment, boats, off-road vehicles and knowledge of the back country, they are often called to assist other agencies.
The same year that Ty Patterson died, Warden Justin Hurst was shot and killed by a man who engaged several agency’s officers in a multi-shot gun fight. It’s a dangerous world they work in.
As certified Texas peace officers, their duties involve wardens in so much more than confronting someone who failed to properly tag a deer. And many of the violators they encounter are armed.