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Sheriff opens up about grief 1 year after Schoharie limo crash

September 30, 2019 08:40 PM

Schoharie County Sheriff Ron Stevens is speaking for the first time about his own grief as the one-year anniversary of the fatal limo crash approaches.

The sheriff, who has a long tenure in law enforcement, says the tragedy has been a defining moment in both his personal and professional life.

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Stevens has witnessed a lot in his 45 years in law enforcement, but the devastating crash last October is something he thinks about and has shed tears over almost daily. He says he hasn't been afraid to show his department or the community that he is grieving for the victim's families too.

 "Knowing that these were friends, and they were on a celebration, and they were doing everything right. There were families that lost multiple members. That's the magnitude with this one. That's the difficult part," he said.

The crash left 20 people dead, making it one of the country's deadliest motor vehicle accidents ever.

Dozens of first responders, both paid and volunteer, came from 16 counties to help Stevens and his team.

"I am at peace with myself, but every time I drive past there and I think every time the people that live in this county drive past there, they remember it," he said.

The impact of the enormous tragedy is something the sheriff has not taken lightly. He says he's relied on community support.

"As a county, we relied on the state services to help us through the tragic event," he said.

The sheriff has brought in numerous speakers and grief counselors in the past year to help his department cope.

"I want them to have every opportunity to get whatever resources they need to help them in the process," he said.

He's also been candid about his own grief -- an admission you often don't hear coming from officials.

"I think other communities look at us as good people, tough people, people that care about each other and who work together to get through a challenge," he said.

As the people of Schoharie continue to grieve and heal, Stevens says he's more aware now of what is most important.

"To live every day like it's your last, tell your loved ones you love them, and give your kids a hug before they get on the school bus because at any moment it could change," he said.

Stevens says they will be holding a first responders wellness day later this month after the one-year anniversary of the crash. He's encouraging all first responders to attend.

Tuesday night on NewsChannel 13 Live at 6, Brooke Selby speaks with Joshua Loden, the owner of the Apple Barrel in Schoharie. He was working at the store when the limousine crashed into his parking lot last October.

Credits

Brooke Selby

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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