HIGHLANDS COUNTY, Fla. — The legacy of Highlands County Sheriff’s Office Deputy killed in the line of duty will continue to live on in a way that will help save lives.
Deputy William Gentry Jr. was shot and killed by a suspect while responding to a call in Lake Placid in May.
In death, Deputy Gentry was able to save at least six lives as a registered organ donor.
In the week following Gentry’s death, Highlands County Sheriff’s Office Detective Steven Ritenour called Tax Collector Eric Zwayer with an idea: since Deputy Gentry was an organ donor, why not waive the fee for anyone who wanted to add an organ donor designation to their driver license in honor of Deputy Gentry?
So, starting Wednesday, the $31.25 fee that would normally apply when adding an organ donor designation can be waived, in honor of Deputy Gentry.
It is still up to each county to decide whether or not to waive the $6.25 tax collector fee, Zwayer said. However, the entire fee will be waived in Highlands County as a continuing memorial to Deputy Gentry.
“Making the decision to perhaps save multiple lives shouldn’t come with a price tag,” Zwayer said. “When Det. Ritenour made the suggestion, I thought it was a great way to honor Deputy Gentry. I want to thank the leadership of the DHSMV for also seeing it the same way.”
“We will never forget Deputy Gentry or his sacrifice,” Sheriff Paul Blackman said. “This is another way to help his memory live on and save lives at the same time. I can’t think of many better ways to honor our fallen brother.”
Anyone who would like to become an organ donor can go to one of the three Highlands County Tax Collector branches — the Sebring Main Office at 540 S. Commerce Avenue, the Avon Park Branch Office at 116 E. Main St. (next to City Hall) or the Lake Placid Branch Office at 11 N. Pine Ave. — during normal business hours and request the designation be added. You must have your current driver license and only be changing the organ donor designation for the fee to be waived. For more information, contact the Highlands County Tax Collector’s Office at 863-402-6685.