ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. — The 1-month-old son of two St. Lucie County deputies lost both parents when they died by suicide just days apart from each other.
Deputy Clayton Osteen was removed from life support Sunday after being hospitalized while off-duty, shortly before midnight on New Year's Eve.
Two days after Osteen's death, Sheriff Ken Mascara says his agency learned Deputy Victoria Pacheco had died, too.
The two deputies shared a 1-month-old son together.
"As sheriff, I saw these two deputies as young, ambitious, and a great compliment to my already amazing group of professionals," Mascara wrote in a statement. "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."
Mascara goes on to explain how "law enforcement deal with not only the day-to-day stress [they] all face but also the stress of those whom they serve in [the] community, which can sometimes be very challenging."
"While it's impossible for us to fully comprehend the private circumstances leading up to this devastating loss, 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," the sheriff wrote.
Osteen was a deputy with the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office since 2019 and also served in the United States Marine Corps, according to an obituary.
"Clayton was one hell of a funny guy, someone you could always count on in the time of need, and loved being an uncle," the obituary read. "He absolutely adored his significant other and mother of his child. But of all his accomplishments, he was most proud of being a dad."
The Osceola County Sheriff's Office also left its condolences in a Facebook post saying, "Our thoughts and prayers are with their families, friends, and the entire Law Enforcement family.
"To our brothers in blue, and to our own. Please, remember it is ok not to be ok. Help is always available."
Anyone experiencing a mental health crisis is urged to reach out for help. You can contact the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay at 211 or call 911. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.