'Close' Relative to Adopt Baby of Deputies Who Will Be Laid to Rest Together After Tragic Deaths
A relative will adopt the orphaned son of two Florida sheriff's deputies who recently took their own lives.
Clayton Osteen and Victoria Pacheco of the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office both died by suicide during the first week of the new year, Sheriff Ken Mascara announced on Tuesday. Osteen, 24, attempted to take his own life on New Year's Eve and was taken off life support two days later.
Pacheco, 23, took her own life on Jan. 4 following Osteen's death, according to Mascara.
The couple left behind their 1-month-old baby, Jayce, who will now be adopted by a "close family member," Kelly Ridle, a friend of Osteen, announced in a GoFundMe campaign to benefit the infant.
"The families of Clayton and Victoria are so grateful for all prayers and support received," Ridle said. "All donations will be used for enriching Jayce's life experiences and securing a brighter future."
Relatives remembered Pacheco, who they also called "Tori," as a "confident, strong-willed, and fearless young woman" on her obituary. They said she was adventurous, and a passionate artist.
Osteen — a Florida native — was a former SWAT team member and was named 2020 Deputy of the Year, his obituary said. He also served in the U.S. Marines and as a non-commissioned officer. Loved ones remembered him for his humor and dependability.
In a post to Facebook, Ridle said Osteen had been close to her children was like "another son" to her and her husband.
"This last week has been one of the hardest of my life," Ridle wrote in her post, in part. "Then the unexpected, unexplainable actions that led to the worst phone call one can receive just as the ball was about to drop on New Year's Eve changed the course of so many lives."
"Our hearts ached for all, but especially baby Jayce who would never know what an awesome, hilarious, thoughtful guy his dad was. Or how much Clayton adored and loved both Jayce and his mommy," she added. "Then the unthinkable happened. Two days later Bob called me with the news that Clayton's love, Jayce's sweet mommy Victoria, left us in the same manner to be with Clayton..."
Ridle said the couple spent their "shortened careers," serving their community and country, and asked others to support Jayce as part of his "village."
"The grief is deep and painful. Parents shouldn't have to bury their children," she wrote. "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," she continued. "We are forever bonded to one another and Jayce."
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
This story originally appeared on people.com