Patrick: First responder funerals 'heartwrenching,' will order i - FOX34 Lubbock

Patrick: First responder funerals 'heartwrenching,' will order ice treatment study

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

During firefighter Eric Hill and police officer Nicholas Reyna's funerals Friday and Saturday mornings, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R-TX) knelt and prayed with their families in a gesture to show Texas mourns with their loss. He presented them with Texas flags that had flown over the capitol as a token to show the state government cares.

After the funeral, Patrick said he's been to too many services for fallen first responders -- nearly 40 since he took office, 18 last year alone -- but said it's important to show the 29 million Texans share in the loss.

"It hurts so much," he said, "I feel like a piece of my soul gets chipped away every time."

The state's second-in-command praised Lubbock and the area for rallying around and supporting the families and departments, saying that's common in Texas.

"We're a remarkable state," he said, "we're a remarkable people. We really do come around and hug and love and give everything we can, so whether it's Sutherland Springs, El Paso, or Lubbock, or Houston or Dallas, people will really rally around these folks who are hurting."

Lt. Gov. Patrick praised firefighters, paramedics, and law enforcers as true public servants.

"In our country, in our state, in our cities," he explained, "they're the only people that get up in the morning and go to work, they put on a gun or they're ready to go fight a fire -- in other words ,they're ready to go and sacrifice their life if called upon for a total stranger.

"They take an oath," he continued, "to run into that burning building or go to that accident scene, or go into that crime that's being committed. That's extraordinary. They truly are -- we call them public servants, but they really are public servants, and they are leaders because of that."

In the wake of these deaths, the presiding officer over the State Senate said he'll ask Texas A&M to begin a study on the state's approaches to battling icy road conditions. The university's tasked with traffic safety research, and Lt. Gov Patrick said he will appeal directly to Chancellor John Sharp to get the work started.

"I want to be sure we have the right mixture of alcohol, the right amount of salt," he explained, "or see what the latest technology that we can get to help prevent these accidents.

"You're never going to stop every accident," he went on to say, "particularly in bad weather -- whether it's rain, fog, or ice -- but I want to be sure that at least we're doing the best we can."

Patrick said traffic safety also comes down to paying attention and slowing down; he said drunk driving deaths have declined over the past few years, but distracted driving -- cell phone use, mainly -- has killed more drivers in its place. He said drivers not moving over and slowing down while passing law enforcers conducting traffic stops is also responsible for killing or hurting many state troopers, deputies, and police. 

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