Death of Fla. flight medic in helicopter crash leads officials to improve LODD benefits
Broward County officials plan to provide quick help for mortgage and rent payments, or funeral expenses before other benefits kick in
By Lisa J. Huriash
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. — Broward’s new plan to pay the families of first responders killed in the line of duty may benefit the relatives of the fire-rescue veteran who died in last week’s helicopter crash, the county says.
The benefits will be retroactive “to accommodate the unfortunate accident that happened last week,” County Administrator Monica Cepero told county leaders Thursday.
On Aug. 28, a Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue helicopter crashed into an apartment building in Pompano Beach, killing Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue Capt. Terryson Jackson, and a woman in the building, Lurean Wheaton. Four other people were taken to the hospital. The cause of the crash remains unknown, but a spokeswoman for the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating, said its preliminary report is expected to be released Friday.
Although the specifics still need to be addressed at a later date under the county’s plan, it is likely to be a benefit of $25,000 per death for sworn police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians, employed by the Sheriff’s Office or any Broward city. The money would be spread out over a 12-month period and the intent is to provide quick financial help for mortgage and rent payments, or funeral expenses before other benefits kick in.
Broward County has earmarked $50,000 in its proposed budget for the new benefit. County leaders asked for the benefit to date back to when the item was first discussed, which was on April 4.
But it may not be so easy to offer it. “I agree we should do this,” said Commissioner Michael Udine told county commissioners. But he doubted it would ever run smoothly: “Once anything goes into the hands of government, it gets majorly screwed up.”
“When the county gives the check to this person, are they cashing it? Are they taking it?” he asked, and wondered if the county would be inserting itself into any future legal issues, such as potential lawsuits. He raised concern about potential “legal issues, reimbursement issues, court issues.”
Commissioner Mark Bogen had asked for the budget item in April. “I think we can do some things competently,” Bogen responded. “It’s simple: It comes down to helping the family in the time of need.”
Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony has posthumously promoted Jackson to battalion chief.
Jackson began his career with Deerfield Beach Fire Rescue in 2004, and years later joined the Broward Sheriff’s Office as a fire rescue lieutenant during the merger in 2011, the Sheriff’s Office said. Jackson joined an air rescue team as a flight medic in 2013, and he was promoted to captain in 2016.
Jackson’s Line of Duty Memorial service will be 10 a.m. Friday at The Faith Center at 5555 NW 95 Ave. in Sunrise. The Broward Sheriff’s Office said those attending the public memorial are encouraged to carpool to The Faith Center because there will be a large crowd, and traffic around the center will be heavy. Following the service, there also will be a rifle volley, where loud noises will be heard.
A celebration-of-life ceremony for Wheaton will be held this weekend, according to her obituary.
Wheaton, of Pompano Beach, attended school in Pendleton, South Carolina, and moved to Florida in 1998, her obituary said. The ceremony will be Saturday at New Holly Light Missionary Baptist Church in Anderson, South Carolina, followed by her interment.