Blount County, Alabama – An electrical lineman and White father of four was struck dead on Saturday after a Blount County Sheriff’s Deputy allegedly sped through a 15mph residential area and work zone. A grieving family and distraught widow now want nothing more than to raise awareness so that she and her late husband can receive the “justice” they deserve.
On Saturday, 35-year-old Andrew Jacob Schwam worked overtime as an electrical lineman at a job site in the Town of Hayden, repairing a fallen telecommunications line. The cable was laid across the road, and a ground crew consisting of Schwam and a second employee of Tri-State Construction, a Chattanooga-based utility repair company, pulled into a driveway to begin repairs.
According to those close to the matter—including the sole eyewitness and members of Schwam’s family—a yet-to-be-identified Deputy of the Blount County Sheriff’s Department allegedly threw caution to the wind, driving his patrol car at a high rate of speed through a 15mph residential zone. Witnesses claimed that the reckless driver of the government vehicle, a Dodge SUV, hit the fallen cable so hard, that it bucked up into the air, striking Schwam and sending him backward a considerable distance.
“Andrew was on-call for work this weekend, and he responded to a downed line. The speed limit in that work zone was supposed to be fifteen miles an hour,” alleged Schwam’s wife, Porsche. “All the traffic going through the work zone went the speed limit, and the ground crew did everything they were supposed to. But a Blount County Sheriff’s Deputy came flying around the curve.”
“I was told the cop drove approximately 40 miles an hour through the area. It was so fast that when it hit the downed line, it lifted the back of the deputy’s vehicle off the ground and stopped it short. When it did that, though, the cable kicked up and hit Andrew. It flung him 37 feet in the air, and he landed right on his head. They say it killed him instantly.”
To corroborate the story, the Justice Report reached out to Matt Vogelaar, Schwam’s regular work partner for several months and an industry veteran for two years. Aside from the Deputy involved in the incident, Vogelaar was the sole eyewitness to Schwam’s death, and according to him, that day was unlike “anything he had ever seen before.”
“It was a sunny day. No clouds. Really the perfect day, honestly.” Vogelaar confirmed with us in an interview, painting a picture of a work site that had little to no issues with visibility. The incident was brutal to witness, but when we asked Vogelaar if law enforcement bothered to take a statement from him after the horrific incident unfolded, he shockingly replied, “No, they didn’t.”
“They asked me for Andrew’s information so they could find him in their database, like his name and stuff. They didn’t ask me any questions beyond that,” he said. “The ground crew consisted of just me and him, and we set up everything per Department of Transportation guidelines.”
“We were in a 15mph speed zone, and you don’t have to put a sign out because the speed was already low, to begin with,” he continued. “We only had to run about fifty feet of line and we should have got this particular job done in a matter of minutes.”
At the time of publication, there were zero news articles from local media outlets that touched on the story of Andrew Schwam, indicating a hesitance to report on the apparent negligence of regional law enforcement.
The question still remains, however, as to who was the deputy allegedly at fault for the workplace accident that took Andrew Schwam’s life? Despite numerous phone calls, voicemail messages, and emails to the Blount County Sheriff’s Department for comment—all made over a span of several days—the Justice Report was continually and shamelessly ignored by both Blount County Sheriff Mark Moon, and Chief Deputy Brian Whitt.
It wasn’t until we sent a message under an anonymous account to the Blount County Sheriff’s official Facebook page did we receive a proper response. “Is the Sheriff’s office planning to address the accident that killed Andrew Schwam this week?” We asked, to which they replied, “Investigators looked at multiple cameras and video from several businesses in the area. There appears to be no wrong doing[sic] on the deputies part. He appears to be driving well below the speed limit and some cable across the road somehow caught his exhaust.”
Despite the sanitized response from the Sheriff’s social media account—which appeared to have handwaved the matter of Andrew’s death altogether—people like Porsche were now left with even more questions than they had answers.
“Almost every bone in his body was either fractured or broken,” she explained, confused at the Sheriff’s explanation. “He flew 37ft in the air. They’re lying. ‘Well below’ 15 miles an hour doesn’t do something like that. His injuries say otherwise.”
On top of that, she still didn’t know which Sheriff’s deputy was responsible for her husband’s death.
“I don’t know the age, name, or race of the officer that did this,” asserted Porsche, demanding full disclosure from the dynamically silent Blount County Sheriff’s Office. “I know it was a male. That’s all I know.”
“The deputy came over to us after it happened,” said Vogelaar of the unidentified Deputy he met briefly that day. “I really can’t remember exactly much about him. He had big sunglasses on and wasn’t that tall of a guy. Just a White dude. I can’t remember his name.”
The sudden lack of transparency from the Sheriff’s Office in response to media inquiries comes in stark contrast to the way it handled one of its more recent scandals, most notably the case of 29-year-old Daniel Kelsoe, a Blount County Correctional officer who was arrested after confessing to the jailhouse rape of multiple female inmates. When it came to Kelsoe, Sheriff Moon felt compelled to “come out in front of the issue” when he addressed the public on March 17th—just one day prior to Schwam’s death—during a press conference that was made available on social media.
The Christian conservative Sheriff, who quotes ex-President Ronald Reagan on his official website and who cut his political teeth refusing to enforce state mask mandates during the Covid-19 pandemic, regularly plucks at the political heartstrings of his 84.15% White constituents in order to remain a public servant. In 2019, Moon earned praise from the Bible-believing right when he opened the gates of Blount County Jail to bring in the rock-n-roll church, Redeemed Ministries, to baptize female inmates in an optional program he personally designed. In 2022, he was one of two sheriffs to support a pro-second amendment bill that would introduce the concept of “Constitutional carry” to the state of Alabama.
“This is something that we’re not happy to report today,’’ Moon said on camera during his address regarding Kelsoe’s rapes. “This is one of those things we needed to get out there and get in front of and let people know we take these crimes seriously.”
But if Sheriff Moon is so eager to speak to the press and “get out in front of” alleged corruption or criminal wrongdoing involving his deputies, why, when it comes to Andrew Schwam, is the Sheriff’s Office suddenly playing coverup, and remaining silent on the identity of the deputy involved in the accident on the 18th?
“I think that this is being swept under the rug because of the events that took place the day before,” said Porsche. “It speaks volumes on the integrity and morality of the Sheriff’s Office than anything else. Accepting responsibility and acknowledging that a life has been taken was the least they could do. Instead, they chose to hide away and continue like nothing has happened.”
“How do you take a life and not care? A husband is dead. A son is dead. A brother is dead. A father of four is dead.”Porsche Schwam
While journalists were being stonewalled by Blount County Sheriff Mark Moon, the Justice Report was able to speak, however, with Chuck Vaughn, project manager for Tri-State Construction and a man who had an intimate professional relationship with Schwam. While he declined to speak on the record about the incident itself for fear of jeopardizing the delicate legal situation unfolding, he did agree to comment on the character of Andrew himself.
“He was one of the best workers I ever had. I’ve never had an employee love his job more than Andrew did,” said Vaughn. “He was a great family man and a better friend than anything.”
Institutional silence on behalf of the Sheriff’s department and local media has done nothing to quiet down the outrage simmering in Schwam’s family, however. According to his wife, Porsche, she won’t stop causing a stir until she gets her loving husband “his justice.”
“I want people to know. The more people that know his story, the better chance he’ll be able to get his justice,” she tearfully explained. “The cop killed him that day. He killed him.”
Andrew was ultimately transported to the Trauma Center of UAB Hospital in Birmingham, where he was pronounced dead by medical professionals. He leaves behind a 17-year-old son, Gabriel, a 13-year-old son, Caden, a 5-year-old daughter, Caroline, and a 1-year-old daughter, Charlotte, his loving wife, Porsche, and a whole extended family who mourn his sudden passing.
“We found recipients for his organs,” said Porsche. “A man in Memphis who is dying is getting his liver. Andrew is from Memphis. He is saving people’s lives.”
“I’ve spend[sic] the last 24 hrs on-and-off by his bedside sobbing my heart out,” said Andrew’s sister, Savannah, via an emotional Facebook post memorializing her brother. “I’m proud of who he was becoming… a hard worker, a good father, a husband…A man loved by his coworkers, son, daughter, friends, wife, stepchildren, parents, and me, among others.
“He’s been a wonderful father to our children,” said Porsche. “I couldn’t imagine a better father for our youngest daughter, and she loved him so, so much. I want them [the Sheriff] to understand that he took care of us. We depended on him. I don’t know what I’m going to do without him. I want him [the deputy] to see the family he tore apart.”
While Porsche remains vigilant in the face of an apparent cover-up of her husband’s needless workplace death, she, alongside Andrew’s sister, are asking for financial assistance to keep their shattered family going.
“I’m raising funds in honor of my brother Andrew Jacob Schwam who died at 35 years old working as an electric lineman on 3/18/23,” read one GoFundMe page which, so far, has already raised over $25,000. “No one should have to grieve a loss and also worry about how the bills are going to be paid.”
The Justice Report’s investigation into the death of Andrew Schwam is ongoing and this article will be updated as new details emerge. We urge all who can help financially support the Schwam family in their time of need to consider doing so.
“I have to choose now between working or losing everything I have. It’s all because of their negligence and his [the deputy’s] inability to pay attention to what he was doing,” Porsche added. “They tore this family apart, took a father away from his children, and left a wife with no way of being able to care for this family.”
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