The DeKalb County Sheriff's Office is mourning one of their own, as another front line worker falls victim to the coronavirus.
Wednesday, flags flew half staff in honor of Melissa Wilkerson, a longtime family member of the sheriff's office.
"We're a tightknit family, that's exactly what we are, and we just lost a true family member," says Sheriff Nick Welden.
Wilkerson worked at the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office for more than 30 years. The chief clerk Melissa Mason teared up as she said, "(Melissa) was a really good friend. Really, really good friend."
She was the first face people saw when they entered the office.
"She knew everybody, everybody. She knew their mothers and their daddies and their sisters and brothers and cousins and aunts and uncles," explains Mason.
Like too many essential workers, Wilkerson was exposed to COVID-19 and recently passed away.
"It's not a job that you can just quit as a first responder. Law enforcement, people depend on you, people need you, we got to press on," says Welden.
COVID-19 has hit the sheriff's office especially hard.
"These last 2 years have been tough for us. I mean, Melissa is the third one we've lost. And it's been tough for us here at the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office," explains Sheriff Welden.
Deputy Mickey Bowen died of COVID related complications in October, followed by Lieutenant Jeff Bain in January.
All those deaths due to the virus are taking a toll on their entire work family.
"It's just one big ole family, and it's hard because it's number 3 that we've lost," says Wendi Wright, warrant clerk at the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office.
Mason says, "(The sheriff's office) will never be the same, it will never be the same."
Wilkerson's coworkers are happy to know she's no longer in pain.
"I know she's in a better place because she's not hurting, because she hurt a lot," says Wright through tears.
Wilkerson's funeral service will take place Friday at 1:00 p.m. in the Rainsville Funeral Home Chapel.
The sheriff's administrative office will remain closed until further notice, as two people from the sheriff's office are currently in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19.