Two Florida sheriff's deputies who were in a relationship have died by suicide just days apart last week, leaving their newborn son an orphan.
St Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara announced on Tuesday the deaths of deputies Clayton Osteen, 24. and Victoria Pacheco, 23. They had served on the force since November 2019 and February 2020, respectively.
Pacheco Killed Herself After Osteen was Taken Off Life Support Following Suicide Attempt
Mascara said that shortly before midnight on New Year's Eve, the sheriff's office recived a call about an attempted suicide.Investigators learned that the person who had tried to take his own life was one of their deputies, Osteen, who was off-duty at the time.
Osteen initially survived and was taken to a hospital, where two days later his family made the decision to remove him from life support. A day later, Osteen's partner, colleague and the mother of his one-month-old son, Pacheco, took her own life.
Osteen was a retired US Marine, previously serving as a rifleman with 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, having enlisted in May 2015. Osteen and Pacheco welcomed their first child together, a son, in mid-November.
'A Tremendous Loss'
"While is it 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," Mascara said in the news release. "Words cannot express the tremendous loss we all feel after losing these two members of our family."
It is not yet known what might have prompted the couple's back-to-back suicides, nor how they died, but Sheriff Mascara noted in his statement that deputies often deal with "stress" and are "human."
Friends and family members have now set up a GoFundMe page for the orphaned baby to ensure he has a "brighter future."
"A true brother lost his internal battle," Osteen's friend, Ray Tourville, wrote on Facebook. "I struggle with finding the words to write that even remotely does him justice. I'm incredibly sorry that you felt this was your only option."