When Liberty County Deputy William Solomon told Sheriff Steve Sikes in 2013 that he had the chance to make a good career move, taking a job with the Georgia Ports Authority Police, Sikes tried to persuade him to stay.
“I personally tried to talk him out of it because he was such a fine officer,” Sikes said. “But he felt like it was a career move, that he had to do it for his family. I understand completely. I’m all for a man trying to improve himself,” Sikes said Thursday afternoon, after word spread that Solomon had died early that morning of injuries sustained after he was struck by a tractor-trailer while directing traffic near the port in Garden City in March.
“So, gave him my blessings, and here we are today,” the sheriff said.
Robert Lee Turner, 56, of Riceboro, who was driving the big rig, has been charged with DUI in connection with the incident. Turner is serving a 10-month jail sentence after his probation was revoked after Solomon was hurt.
He had been at Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah since being injured. He had recently been transferred to the Shepherd Center, a private, not-for-profit hospital in Atlanta that specializes in brain and spinal-cord injury rehabilitation, where he died.
Georgia State Patrol Trooper William Bowman, who has been providing support to the Solomon family since March, said he received a phone call early Thursday morning from family members informing him of his close friend’s death.
“To me, he was my brother — not only my brother in law enforcement, but my brother in spirit,” Bowman said Thursday afternoon of Solomon. “He epitomized the officer — knowledge, willing to sacrifice himself to help the public. He always went above and beyond the call of duty. We had a good relationship, and I’m going to miss him.”
Sikes also counted Solomon as a friend.
“William Solomon was a man of character, man of integrity,” the sheriff said in an interview. “To lose someone like that is heart-wrenching to this whole community.”
Solomon joined the Sheriff’s Office on March 23, 2005, immediately following a career in the Army, according to his obituary.
He arrived in the area after being stationed on Fort Stewart. He was an Army sergeant, the obituary says.
Bowman said Solomon always worked to be a better officer, putting himself through school while working full-time. Solomon received a master’s degree in criminal justice from South University and was working toward getting a doctorate in public safety and leadership, according to his obituary.
“That’s kind of difficult being in law enforcement” while studying to earn college degrees at the same time, Bowman said.
Solomon, of Midway, worked with the Sheriff’s Office until July 26, 2013, according to a written statement by Sikes. He was a jail officer, courthouse security deputy and patrol deputy.
“(Solomon’s wife) Aida and William were good Christian people, very involved with their church, very on fire for the Lord,” Sikes said. “Just his presence in the community alone is going to be a loss to all of us.”
The sheriff added that Solomon served the Sheriff’s Office and the community well.
“He stood up for what he thought was right. He always did the right thing,” Sikes said of Solomon. “I never once questioned anything that man did.
LCSO Detective Tracy Jennings called Solomon a “deep thinker who asked a lot of good questions because he wanted to do things the right way,” Jennings said.
The sheriff added that retired Lt. Marty Adams, who was Solomon’s shift commander, said Solomon “was a fine fellow who was always good to me.”
In an interview, Sikes shared his initial reaction on hearing that Solomon had died.
“I know where he’s at. I know he’s with his Lord,” Sikes said. “So, it was a peace. A peace came over me because I know he served his Lord.”
Solomon is survived by his wife of 13 years, Aida Solomon; children, Alfredo Castro Rossi and Jonathan Solomon, both of Midway, and Christian Solomon and Clarissa Solomon, both of Broward County, Florida; his parents, John and Karen Solomon of Central Islip, New York; and three brothers, David (Melissa) Solomon, George (Diana) Solomon and Robert (Martha) Solomon.
His wake will be from 6-8 p.m. Monday in the Frank V. Givens Memorial Chapel of Dorchester Funeral Home, 7842 E. Oglethorpe Highway, Midway. His funeral service will be at noon Tuesday at Live Oak Church of God, 296 Live Oak Road, Hinesville. The committal service with military honors will follow in the Georgia Veterans Memorial Cemetery, 8819 Highway 301, Glennville.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be given to the Wounded Warrior Project, www.woundedwarriorproject.org.