Fort Pierce, FL – Two St. Lucie County sheriff’s deputies who shared a one-month-old son took their own lives within days of one another, the sheriff’s office confirmed on Tuesday.
St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara issued a statement regarding the tragic deaths of Deputy Clayton Osteen and Deputy Victoria Pacheco on Jan. 4.
“Today, the members of the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office [SLCSO] carry the burden of a very heavy heart as we share with you the tragic passing of two of our deputies,” Sheriff Mascara wrote.
Deputies responded to a call shortly before midnight on New Year’s Eve and discovered that Deputy Osteen had attempted to commit suicide.
The off-duty deputy was transported to the hospital, where he remained until his family “made the very difficult decision to remove him from life support” on Jan. 2, Sheriff Mascara said.
Further tragedy ensued Tuesday.
“This morning we learned that Deputy Pacheco, who shared a one-month-old son with Deputy Osteen, took her own life in the wake of Deputy Osteen’s death,” Sheriff Mascara confirmed.
“Words cannot express the tremendous loss we all feel after losing these two members of our Sheriff’s Office family,” he continued. “As sheriff, I saw these two deputies as young, ambitious, and a great compliment to my already amazing group of professionals.”
Sheriff Mascara noted that he and members of the general public have a tendency to “view law enforcement officers as superhuman.”
“Law enforcement deal with not only the day-to-day stress we all face but also the stress of those whom they serve in our community, which can sometimes be very challenging,” he wrote. “Let’s not forget that they’re human just like us.”
Although the private circumstances that preceded the loss of both deputies are “impossible for us to fully comprehend,” Sheriff Mascara said he hopes this tragedy can become a “catalyst to help ease the stigma” regarding mental health and well-being.
He said it may also aid in normalizing conversations about “the challenges so many of us face on a regular basis.”