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Deputy district attorney for Nye County dies because of COVID-19

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Posted at 8:08 AM, Jan 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-22 11:31:38-05

NYE COUNTY (KTNV) — The deputy district attorney for Nye County has died, according to the Nye County Sheriff’s Office.

According to a post on Facebook, Deputy District Attorney Don Chairez passed away due to complications of COVID.

Nye County sent the following statement:

Nye County Deputy District Attorney Don Chairez passed away this morning from COVID-related complications. His death caps a grim and tragic week at the Pahrump Courthouse, coming as it did just three days after long-time Justice Court Bailiff Gerald “Bear” Smith passed away, also from COVID-related complications.

“We are devastated and our hearts, thoughts, and prayers go out to Don and his family, as they do to Bear and his family,” Arabia said. “Don was a beloved father, husband, brother, and a beloved figure around the Pahrump Courthouse.”

Don joined the District Attorney’s Office in March of 2019. Prior to that, he practiced criminal defense and immigration law. Don served as a District Court Judge in Las Vegas from 1994 until 1998, when he resigned to run for Congress and almost pulled off an upset victory.

His career also included working as a prosecutor for both the Clark and Washoe County District Attorney’s Offices. Don presided over approximately 25 murder trials as a Judge and was counsel in approximately 90 jury trials as an attorney. “

Don was just an unassuming, nice person who did a great deal to promote justice over his long and varied career,” Arabia said. “He was a great legal mind and courtroom lawyer and, unlike a lot of attorneys, he also excelled at making people smile.”

The body of Pahrump Justice Court Bailiff Gerald "Bear" Smith was escorted back to Nye County on Monday. According to the Sheriff's Office, Smith also died of complications from COVID-19.

Chairez was 65 years old. He is survived by his wife, two daughters, two brothers and a sister.

Nye County Sheriff's deputies escorted Chairez's body back to Nye County after his death.