Retired APSO lieutenant drowns in neighborhood pond trying to save his dog

PRAIRIEVILLE, LA (WAFB) - A recently retired 32-year veteran of the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office has died in a drowning earlier on Sunday after trying to save his pet.

Investigators say that 56-year-old Lt. Sam Vitter was found dead after jumping into a pond to rescue his yorkshire terrier.

According to the office of APSO Sheriff Jeff Wiley, a call from the Spanish Oaks subdivision in Prairieville, La. was received at around 10:30 a.m., reporting that a set of keys and shoes were found on the bank of the Spanish Oaks pond, as well as a small barking dog.

Investigators went door-to-door searching for the owner of the items before they realized that the owner was one of their own. Vitter lived on a street behind the pond, which is located at the end of Spanish Oaks Blvd. Investigators believe that he went into the water to get his small dog which jumped in, chasing wildlife.

Vitter never resurfaced. The Prairieville Fire Department, Gonzales Dive Team, and the Ascension Parish deputies recovered his body at around 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Lt. Col. Bobby Webre says Vitter owned a boat and did a lot of fishing. Webre also says that fellow deputies of the APSO are in deep mourning of this tragic event.

"You think it couldn't happen to someone who gave 32 years of his life in law enforcement and things he may have seen over the years." said Webre. "Life is precious and you just don't know what can happen to you and again we experienced that today with the tragic loss of one of our veteran guys."

Sheriff Wiley says Vitter loved serving the community through devotion and good leadership.

"Sam was not only a long serving deputy in our department, he was a great leader who devoted his entire life to serving others," said Sheriff Wiley. "This is a great loss to this department," he added.

Vitter's family has been notified of the accident. His wife, Sandy, also served as an Ascension Parish Deputy Sheriff. They have one son who is currently serving in the US Navy.

Vitter began his career with the APSO in 1982. Until the time of his retirement, he worked in both the patrol division and criminal investigations.

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