Port Arthur Police Department honors fallen Beaumont officer

Published 9:44 pm Sunday, August 8, 2021

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Port Arthur Police officers gathered Sunday night in a parking lot near the seawall for a balloon release as a gesture for their brothers and sisters with the Beaumont Police Department.

“We wanted to show support for the Beaumont Police Department as they recognize the one year anniversary of the passing of Sheena Dae Yarbrough-Powell,” Port Arthur Sgt. Shelby Harper said.

Sheena Dae Yarbrough-Powell

Harper said she met Yarbrough-Powell before and she was a sweet person.

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“It hits close to home,” Harper said.

PAPD vehicles lined up in a parking lot of Woodrow Wilson Early College High School and turned their overhead lights on. The red and blue lights flashed in the darkening sky and the officers — including some recently retired officers — each held several balloons and waited for the cue to release them.

“She lost her life in the line of duty and although she wasn’t a member of PAPD she was still a member of the blue family and for the officers, especially these local agencies, it still hits home,” Officer Wendy Billiot said.

“PAPD has been fortunate to not have as many in the line of duty deaths as other agencies but we still support those agencies and mourn their loss as if they were our own.”

PAPD Officer Evelyn Ryherd, left, Officer Jamarcus Davis and Officer Dairius Charlot hold balloons before the release. (Mary Meaux/The News)

Lt Ryan Byers and retired Lt. Terry Chance each manned a drone to capture the event.

Retired Lt. Martin “Bubba” Blitch and his wife Nancy were also on hand for the balloon release.

“It’s because of a tragedy we’re here but we definitely want to show support for Beaumont PD and what they’re doing to remember Yarbrough-Powell and we continue to support her and her family,” Blitch said, adding the death impacts others. “When you lose an officer, we all lose an officer.”

Blitch offered thanks at being told of the event so he and his wife could attend.

On Aug. 9, 2020, 23-year-old Officer Sheena Yarbrough-Powell and then 28-year-old Officer Gabriel Fells were traveling northbound on Cardinal Drive near the Texas 347 overpass in Beaumont when a wrong way driver not using headlights struck them head-on.

Fells was taken to a hospital for severe injuries, underwent surgery and was released.

Yarbrough-Powell died at the scene.

BPD also held an event in remembrance of the fallen officer.

PAPD Sgt. Shelby Harper distributes balloons before the release. (Mary Meaux/The News)