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A one-month old infant has been orphaned after his parents took their own lives in perhaps the most tragic story of the new year, both of them were law enforcement officers and the news of their deaths left family, friends and co-workers stunned and searching for answers.
On New Years Eve, 24-year-old Clayton Osteen, a deputy for the St. Lucie County, FL Sheriff’s Department attempted to commit suicide for unknown reasons and was transported to the hospital where his family made the agonizing decision to remove him from life support, he died on Sunday.
Distraught by the loss, Osteen’s partner, 23-year-old Victoria Pacheco, also a St. Lucie County Sheriff’s deputy took her own life, leaving her newborn child Jayce without a mother and father.
On Tuesday, St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken J. Mascara released a statement expressing sorrow and calling for their deaths to be be a “catalyst for change” regarding the stigma over mental health issues for those tasked with performing a difficult and stressful job.
“Words cannot express the tremendous loss we all feel after losing these two members of our sheriff’s office family,” he wrote in the statement, “As sheriff, I saw these two deputies as young, ambitious, and a great compliment to my already amazing group of professionals. To the general public, and sometimes even myself, it’s easy to view law enforcement as superhuman…but let’s not forget that they’re human just like us.”
Sheriff Mascara added, “We pray that this tragedy becomes a catalyst for change, a catalyst to help ease the stigma surrounding mental well-being and normalize the conversation about the challenges so many of us face on a regular basis,”
A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Osteen joined the St. Lucie Sheriff’s Department in 2019, he was awarded Deputy of the Year in 2020, Pacheco had been with the force since 2020.
“Clayton was one hell of a funny guy, someone you could always count on in the time of need, and loved being an uncle,” his loved ones wrote in his obituary, “He absolutely adored his significant other and mother of his child. But of all his accomplishments, he was most proud of being a dad.”
A GoFundMe account has been set up for Jayce Osteen by Kelly Ridle, the mother of one of the Osteen and Pacheco’s co-workers.
According to the GoFundMe page, “Baby Jayce Osteen was born November 22, 2021 to Deputies Clayton Osteen and Victoria Pacheco of the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office. Clayton and Victoria were joy-filled, first-time parents excited about their growing family, enamored with their baby Jayce, and so in love with each other. Tragically, for reasons completely unknown and totally out of character, Clayton took his own life December 31st, 2021. Reeling from the shock of loss, Victoria took her own life two days later.”
“The grief is deep and painful. Parents shouldn’t have to bury their children,” Ridle wrote on Facebook. “Brothers and best friends should be called upon for support. Babies should grow up surrounded by the love of their parents. But know my friends, despite this horrendous situation, I’ve witnessed more grace, love, compassion, answered prayers, and even what feels like a few miracles this week than I could imagine even existed among those left behind. We are forever bonded to one another and Jayce.”
The infant is currently being cared for by Osteen’s brother who also a St. Lucie Sheriff’s Department deputy, the department is seeking to raise money as well as accepting essential items like diapers, baby wipes, gift cards to baby and food stores, according to the Daily Mail.
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