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Artists paints murals in honor of fallen Orange County deputies

Murals to stay in downtown Sanford for 3 months

SANFORD, Fla. – Murals of almost two dozen deputies who died in the line of duty are now visible in downtown Sanford for people to pay their respects.

The fallen heroes from the Orange County Sheriff's Office are now memorialized through murals in neighboring Seminole County.

The man who painted the murals, Jeff Sonksen, is from Seminole County. He's known in the area for Paint the Trail, a project in which he painted portraits along a bike path near Longwood.

He's also been rotating different works of art at a spot in Sanford off East 1st Street every couple of months for four years. On Tuesday, he painted portraits of men and women in blue from the Orange County Sheriff's Office after officials there asked him to do so. 

He said he thinks the murals will make a great place for people to pay tribute to the fallen officers.

"I'm just doing my part," Sonksen said.

Sonksen said his job, even though he works in the hot summer sun, is not nearly as difficult as the job the 22 officers whose faces he painted had.

"Cops put that uniform on and don't know what's going to happen to them, and day by day they risk their lives just pulling them over and giving them a traffic ticket," Sonksen said.

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One of the portraits is of Jim Hollomon's son, John. 

"They put their lives on the line. Some of them lost it," Jim Hollomon said.

John was taken from his family almost 19 years ago while responding to a call to back up another deputy. As he was traveling through an intersection, lights and sirens on, another driver T-boned his vehicle.

Hollomon hopes people who walk by in Sanford will now stop to show their appreciation to his son, as well as his fallen brothers and sisters.

"It's an honor. Any time you say his name, any time you see his picture, you honor him, and everybody else here," Hollomon said.

Sonksen painted a thin blue line between each of the portraits. He said that line is there to serve as a reminder of the thin blue line that protects law enforcement.

The murals will stay at the location here for about three months. There are plans to eventually move them onto Ronald Reagan Boulevard in Longwood as a permanent spot. The artist painted the portraits for free.