BENTON COUNTY, Ore. -- Two weeks ago the Benton County Sheriff's Office lost Deputy Rick Fontaine to cancer, and just this week they also lost Deputy Brent Iverson in a tragic car accident. Tonight they are grieving, but they are also remembering these men for their service to the community.
Undersheriff Greg Ridler said their office is taking time to process the sudden deaths.
However, he said it's still their top priority, even in their grief, to serve the people of Benton County and do their jobs.
"That's the thing. When people dial 911, they expect response from law enforcement to help them with their problems," said Ridler. "They don't want to hear about our problems and what we're dealing with. And we do not want to include our feelings with what we're dealing with in how we respond."
Ridler said these deaths are even more personal to the department because they suffered their medical emergencies in the presence of other deputies, making it even more difficult to deal with.
He said Fontaine was known around the station for his love of Star Wars and known in the community for how well he dealt with families.
He said Iverson was an experienced forest deputy with many years in the department.
Sheriff Scott Jackson said any loss of manpower puts a strain on remaining deputies but they are remaining resilient.
"We have around the neighborhood of 31 patrol deputies out on the road serving the Benton County community, so losing two really impacts us, and it will be an impact for about two years before we can train somebody up and get those positions filled," said Jackson.
He said in the meantime they have had support and assistance from law enforcement agencies in the surrounding cities including Philomath and Corvallis.
Ridler said they are working with the men's families to find ways to memorialize them. He also wants to thank the community for their outpouring of support during this time.
They both said the tragic deaths of these men have left holes not only in their department but in the community. They said both Iverson and Fontaine will be remembered as dutiful and compassionate, and they will be greatly missed.