Event remembers fallen officers
SEBRING - During all the time he was growing up, Nick Sottile Jr. knew his father, Nicholas G. Sottile, as a law enforcement officer, he recalled. On Thursday, he joined others at Highlands County commission chambers in remembering his father and other officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty during Peace Officers’ Memorial Day. Mark Schrader, chief deputy of the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office, said that statistics show that one law officer dies every 57 hours, and many more are assaulted or receive injuries. This past year in Florida four law enforcement officers died in the line of duty. Those were:
Deputy Chris Schaub of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, who died Sept. 26, 2012, from injuries in a motorcycle accident.
Sgt. Ruben Thomas III of the Florida Department of Corrections, who died Sunday, March 18, 2012, after being stabbed to death.
Police Officer Bruce St. Laurent of the Jupiter Police Department, who died Sept. 9, 2012, from injuries in a motorcycle accident.
Deputy Barbara Pill of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, who died on March 6, 2012, after being shot to death.
Detective David Adam White of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, who died on Feb. 6, 2012, after being shot to death.
Of those who have died in Highlands County, Sottile, 48, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper, was the only one shot to death. Sottile, who lived in Highlands County, was shot to death Jan. 12, 2007, after making a traffic stop on U.S. 27, north of Lake Placid. His killer, Joshua Lee Altersberger, was convicted of the murder and sentenced to death. He remains on death row.
Sottile’s son, a deputy with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, said his main memory of his father is as a law enforcement officer. When his father would visit his school, he always was in uniform, Nick Sottile Jr. recalled.
He said he’s had trouble dealing with the death of his father and the idea of forgiving the killer.
But he also said looking toward the hope of the future is important and that it’s important to “celebrate the future, as opposed to burying yourself in the past.”
Sebring Police Chief Thomas Dettman noted other law officers who have died in the line of duty. They were:
Sgt. Marc Charles Wilbur, 43, of the Avon Police Department, who died of a heart attack on Dec. 25, 2008.
Inspector James E. Rodgers, 46, and Capt. Robert F. Hopton Jr., 52, both died on July 10, 1995, in a helicopter crash.
Sgt. Jimmy Roger Moore, 31, who died in an automobile accident on June 30, 1976.