SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. - It's a headline we report often -- a suicide bomber strikes in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, it is almost a daily occurrence and now it's literally hitting close to home for a Tri-Cities family and their friends.
Ricky Watterson served as a deputy with the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office for almost 21 years: from 1984 until 2000 and again from 2002 to 2005.
Long-time friend and co-worker Lt. B.J. Richardson began his career with Watterson. "We worked as correctional officers together, and then we got promoted to the road as road officers. We spent many a year on the road as road officers," he told us.
But now he's gone from protecting the streets here to those thousands of miles away. Watterson works for DynCorp International, a security contractor that's teaching the Afghan National Police security tactics.
On Tuesday, July 2, he saw the danger there up close. A suicide bomber hit Camp Pinnacle, outside of Kabul, killing seven. Three of those killed were Watterson's peers from DynCorp.
It left a crater 30 feet wide. Watterson had a concussion, cuts and bruises.
Richardson says Watterson went to Aafghanistan to help others, something he did here as well. "He was always willing to help somebody. You call him on the phone [and say], 'Hey Rick, I need you to come over.' And he'd be there. He's that kind of person," Richardson said.
Watterson's family says Ricky is recovering from his injuries, but news of that close call is still tough to take. "You hear about this and you don't know to what extent, and it just leaves you concerned. It really does," he said.
Due to security concerns, Ricky's family did not want to comment on camera.