Fort Mill High School graduate Eric James Oliver was always someone that could be counted on, said Sien Creytens, a former classmate.
“He was an amazing guy,” Creytens, a member of the FMHS Class of 2005, said. “He was the best friend anybody could ever ask for.”
Oliver, 32, died in the line of duty Tuesday. He was a member of the FMHS Class of 2003.
The Nassau County deputy passed away Tuesday at approximately 7:30 a.m. after being struck by a vehicle while pursuing a suspect on foot near the intersection of County Road 200 and Chester Road in Yulee, Fla., according to the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office.
Oliver had joined another deputy in backing up United States Border Patrol agents questioning suspects at a gas station when one of the suspects fled on foot. Oliver chased after him, and that’s when the accident occurred, according to the sheriff’s office.
The suspect who authorities said ran from Border Patrol and Nassau deputies, 25-year-old Francisco Obbidio Portillo-Fuentes of Guatemala, was captured at approximately 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, according to a statement released by Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper. Portillo-Fuentes had been deported from the United States twice and is now being held by Border Patrol on a charge of felony reentry into the country, the sheriff’s office said.
Those who knew Oliver said he died doing what he loved.
“He loved his daughter, he loved his family and he loved his job,” Creytens said.
Oliver spent Thanksgiving with her family in 2005 while he was an active member of the U.S. Navy. It was one of many memorable times the friends shared, Creytens said.
“He was always the kind of big brother type,” she said. “I’ve always had fond memories of him and his Mustang. He loved his Mustang.”
Oliver is survived by his 6-year-old daughter Shelby and his parents Doug and Sharon Oliver, according to the sheriff’s office.
An Operation America Dream donation page has been set up to raise a $5,000 scholarship for his daughter. Visit operationamericandream.org to donate.
Funeral plans set
Funeral arrangements for Eric Oliver have been provided by the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office:
Visitation is 2 p.m. Friday, November 25, at Oxley Heard Funeral Home, 1305 Atlantic Avenue, Fernandina Beach, Fla.
The funeral is 11 a.m. Saturday, November 26, at First Baptist Church of Fernandina Beach, 1600 South 8th Street, Fernandina Beach.
For more information and to send condolences, call the Nassau County Sheriff's Office at 904-225-5174.