Tennessee Highway Patrol Special Ops Aviation Unit • Line of Duty Death: August 23, 2022

On August 23rd 2022 Sergeant Harold Lee Russell II was killed in a helicopter crash on the Aetna Mountain in Marion County, Tennessee. The tragedy also claimed the life of Detective Matthew Blansett.

Russell was born and raised in McKenzie, Tennessee, and attended McKenzie High School before continuing his academics at The University of Tennessee at Martin, and it was during his time there that he met his future wife, Mandi. Russell grew up in a close knit family with incredibly hard working parents. Growing up, Russell spent his time hunting, fishing, and riding horses alongside his brother.

After his college graduation, Russell followed in his father’s footsteps and immediately began working for the Tennessee Highway Patrol Class 311. Russell joined the force with the desire to help people every day. Throughout his twelve year career, Russell was assigned to the Special Ops Aviation Unit and earned a promotion to the rank of Sergeant. The aspect of his career that brought him the most fulfillment was aiding in the rescue of missing people, especially those with mental disabilities such as dementia, who would have otherwise not been found. In those cases, Russell felt that he was directly responsible for saving a life. Russell earned many accolades during his career, including numerous Lifesaver awards, and the Governor’s Safety Hero of the Year Award.

Sergeant Harold Lee Russell II is survived by his wife, Mandi, their son, Connor, and their daughter, Tenley.