• ‘He was the best': Family mourns loss of man killed in crash involving Catawba Co. deputy

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    HICKORY, N.C. - Authorities in Hickory are investigating an early morning fatal crash involving a sheriff’s deputy.

    [IMAGES: 1 killed in crash involving Catawba County deputy]

    Police told reporter Dave Faherty that the wreck happened around 1:15 a.m. at the intersection of McDonald Parkway and Spencer Road.

    Officials said the crash involved a Catawba County deputy. The deputy was not seriously hurt.

    The Highway Patrol is investigating the crash and Channel 9 crews could see the intersection roped off with caution tape.

    Troopers said a 2003 Honda Civic driven by 27-year-old Hernan Cortez was heading west on Spencer Road when it collided in the intersection with Deputy A. Stobbe's Chevy Tahoe, which was heading north on McDonald Parkway.

    Cortez was pronounced dead at the scene.

    “He was the best, my little brother," his brother Richard Cortez said.

    The family had its own band that played up and down the East Coast nearly every weekend.

    (Hernan Cortez)

    “He was a great human being. He had great energy. He was always very sweet and very kind. He always wanted to see the best in everybody,” the victim’s sister Michelle Cortez said.

    The crash happened less than a mile from the family’s home.

    Hernan Cortez had gone to a friend’s home Tuesday night prior to the accident to sing happy birthday. 

    Officials said Stobbe was taken to Catawba Valley Medical Center to be checked out and has since been released. In a release, the sheriff's office said Stobbe was on routine patrol when the crash happened. 

    The Civic, badly damaged, was seen off the side of the road against a fence. In the distance, the deputy's marked SUV could be seen as well, with heavy front-end damage.

    “There are a lot of people in our community hurt by this tragedy,” Catawba County Sheriff Donald Brown said. “Our heartfelt prayers are with the family and friends of Hernan Cortez and also with Deputy Stobbe. Please continue to pray for all of those involved.”

    “I just want to know what happened. Troopers told me he ran the light but are there cameras? I want to see what actually happened because his car is pretty busted up," Richard Cortez said.

    Troopers haven’t said who was at fault in the crash. They said there were no witnesses, and it may be several days before they release their findings.

    No other details have been released.

    Check back with wsoctv.com for updates on this story.

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