R.I.P. Sgt. Gary Christenberry
Longtime Austin cop succumbed to burn wounds last week
Austin Police continue to grieve the loss of Sgt. Gary Christenberry this week. The longtime cop passed away on Friday, Sept. 29, due to complications from severe burns he sustained on his property on Sept. 12. Christenberry was burning brush in his yard when his clothes caught fire. A container of gasoline he'd been holding at the time helped spread the flames across more than a quarter of his body.
Christenberry would have celebrated 25 years with the department in January. He was commissioned in July 1993, promoted to corporal in January 2002, and then again to sergeant in July 2008. His colleagues remember him as a leader, mentor, and a guy who worked tough shifts without complaint. "He had a servant's heart, and he was a community leader – specifically a leader with our department. And we'll miss him so much," said Ken Casaday, a friend, and the president of the Austin Police Association. Police Chief Brian Manley said in a statement issued on the day of his death that "Gary will be remembered as the hero he was to many."
Christenberry's family has already raised more than $16,000 to help pay for outstanding medical bills, and Chelsea Paige Roberts, one of his daughters, wrote that the family plans to keep the fund open. Casaday said that sworn officers will deduct $25 each from their paychecks next pay period to deliver to the family in a lump sum.