Public servants, families still reeling from deaths of two first

Public servants, families still reeling from deaths of two first responders

Posted: Updated:
LUBBOCK, Texas -

Experiencing the death of a loved one, friend or colleague can have long-lasting effects, and public servants, families, and friends are still reeling from the deaths of two first responders this weekend.

"Anytime you feel uncomfortable and you notice you aren't doing things in a normal way...or going through something you don't recognize within yourself as a result of what might've happened, that's a good time to inquire and talk to somebody," Robert Fortney, a licensed professional counselor in Lubbock, said.

Everyone grieves differently, Fortney said. Anyone who may have been involved in Saturday's wreck that killed Lubbock Police Officer Nicholas Reyna, 27, and Lubbock Fire Rescue Lieutenant/Paramedic Eric Hill, 39, may need to seek help.

"The big thing is shock. For those who were the first responders and those who were present at the scene, usually that has a serious effect that lasts a while, and then once that wears off, that could be a serious time of discovering you've been affected," Fortney said.

Someone's way of mourning could also depend on their history of certain kinds of grief or mental health issues.

"It leads people to do and react in a certain way, and the important thing is to be in touch with somebody who can direct them to where they can go and get resources like counseling, but like I say, counseling is not the only place," Fortney said.

One way the public can help out, he said, is by supporting organizations that teach how to deal with grief, such as the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, or Hospice of Lubbock.


The key to beginning the healing process is acknowledgment. Fortney adds family and friends can do this for someone in indirect ways, like donating to something they care about. He said they may begin to feel OK with finding that help.

"It can be nonverbal acknowledgment, it can be written, it can be spoken in different ways or just taking some kind of action that acknowledges something happened," Fortney said.

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