Fort Pierce, FL – St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office (SLCSO) Deputy Clayton Osteen and Deputy Victoria Pacheco both died by suicide within days of one another, the sheriff’s office confirmed on Tuesday.
Deputy Osteen died on Jan. 2, and Deputy Pacheco took her own life Tuesday, St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara said in a statement.
“Today, the members of the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office 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 preceding 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.”
Officer Pacheco was presented with the SLCSO’s Life Saving Award in June of 2021, videos on the SLCSO’s Facebook page showed.
Officer Osteen was named Deputy of the Quarter in December of 2020, and was presented with a Life Saving Award at the same ceremony.
He was also chosen as Deputy of the Year in 2020.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Clayton Osteen and Deputy Victoria Pacheco, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, heroes. We’ll hold the line from here.