The Hi-Line is mourning the loss of one of its most respected public servants and protectors.
Blaine County Undersheriff Pat Pyette was struck by a vehicle on U. S. Highway 2 and died at the age of 54.
The accident happened at about 5 p. m. Wednesday.
According to the Montana Highway Patrol’s initial crash report, Pyette was outside of his vehicle directing traffic around a broken down car just east of the Spa Bar building, between Chinook and Harlem, when 61-year-old Hays woman Mary Steward, who was travelling west, hit Pyette.
He was reportedly flown to Benefis Hospital in Great Falls, But Benefis spokeswoman Karen Ogden said she could not provide information this morning.
Pyette’s boss and friend, Blaine County Sheriff Glenn Huestis, was in Helena with another deputy when he heard from the dispatcher about the accident. He said he left there to meet the flight carrying Pyette to Great Falls.
“He was a fine man, willing to do anything for anybody, no matter who or what, ” Huestis said this morning. “He was dedicated to our community and the people he served. ”
Vic Miller, Blaine County commissioner, said that the loss is felt by anyone who ever had the privilege of meeting or working with Pyette.
“I don’t know anybody that didn’t respect him and like him, and given his line of work that’s a rare characteristic, ” Miller said. “I’m going to miss him.
“He was the kind of guy you want to have for a friend and neighbor. I don’t know anyone that won’t miss him. ”
Blaine County Commissioner Frank DePriest said he was shocked at the loss.
“We lost a super individual, ” DePriest said. “Just outgoing, understanding and a highly respected officer. ”
The effects of the accident last night reach beyond Blaine County.
Hill County Sheriff Don Brostrom said that he and all of his officers were greatly hurt by the news after years of working with the man.
“It’s a tragedy, ” Brostrom said. “It’s tough to describe. It’s going to affect my entire office.
“I’ve known him for years. Every time there’s a loss of a law enforcement officer it’s hard, but especially when he’s a dear friend. ”
Brostrom also said that Pyette was a “very good man, very well respected, ” a trait that he demonstrated frequently and was recognized for a few months ago. Pyette was presented a plaque at this spring’s Sub-Zero Super-Hero Polar Plunge, when he was recognized as the “top plunger, ” raising more than anyone else, $3,225, for the local Special Olympics fundraiser.
According to Miller, Pyette had worked with the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office for 10 years, starting after he retired from the U. S. Air Force.
“He was very proud of his military heritage, ” Miller said. “He loved to hunt. He was an excellent woodworker and carpenter as a hobby. And he was a great family man, there’s no doubt about that. ”