The Peach County Sheriff's Office lost two deputies almost a year ago in a deadly standoff that forever changed a community.
Zach Merchant tells us how the county came together Saturday to honor their memory at the 2017 Law Enforcement Community Day.
Though almost a year has passed, it hardly feels that way to Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese.
“You know; it doesn't seem like a year. It seems like it was last week because it's something we just relive over and over,” said Deese.
Sgt. Patrick Sondron and Deputy Daryl Smallwood died serving their community and on Saturday, that community came together to serve their memory.
“We want to focus on how [my] dad and Daryl lived their lives. They were here to just give back to everybody, to this community…and for us to have this event to open up to the community and them coming out here to celebrate their lives with us means a lot,” said Ethan Sondron.
Sondron's stepson Ethan says he dives into his classes to cope with the loss of the man he called his father.
“I stay at work in school so it keeps my head straight and I come home and just take care of mom and anything she needs,” said Sondron.
For the law enforcement officers left behind, they're dealing with it in their own ways. The SWAT team they both served on keeps a physical reminder with them.
“We put on every helmet of our SWAT team ‘In memory of our two fellow SWAT operators,’ so they'll always, always be with us,” said Cpt. Bill Lavender.
Others are leaning on each other.
“Any one of these guys out here will sit down and talk to anybody about anything at any time, and you know they'll always be there for you. That's the way you come back from something like this,” said Deese.
But for Ethan, there’s one person he’ll never be able to talk to again.
“I missed him being here to tell me when I need help and I'm wrong about something. He was always there to give me the right answer,” said Sondron.
A silent auction was held at the event to raise money for the donation-funded caisson unit that served at the deputies' memorials and for the Georgia Sheriff's Youth Homes -- a cause close to Sgt. Sondron's heart.
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