Tate and Coursen Remembered

Published: Jan. 9, 2003 at 2:55 PM EST|Updated: May. 7, 2003 at 8:21 PM EDT
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The ceremony at the Beaufort Baptist Church.
The ceremony at the Beaufort Baptist Church.

One year ago, someone shot and killed two Beaufort County sheriff's deputies in the line of duty. Last night, friends, family, and fellow officers remembered them and other fallen officers in a special ceremony. It was certainly an emotional night, and those attending tonight's service were glad that the ceremony was done in an upbeat fashion. Public servants from all over the Low Country gathered to celebrate the lives of their comrades Dana Tate and AJ Coursen.

"I was working on Lady's Island that night, at the time it occurred. I heard the call go out over the radio," recalled PFC Jason Sweeney.

"The call went out as shots fired and we didn't hear radio contact with the officers," added Cpl. Gene Rowell. "We were really concerned."

January 8, 2002, is a day that's played over and over in the minds of these deputies.

"For a lot of folks I think it's been a really rough year," said Rowell.

But last night wasn't just a night to remember those who died in the line of duty. It was a time to pay tribute to those who are still risking their lives today. Tate's widow DJ wanted her late husband's colleagues to know she admires their courage.

"After such a horrible, tragic event that happened to my husband, these men and women had to put back on their badges and uniforms, and it was very hard for them," she said.

A commemorative candle was lit for each of the deputies and troopers who lost their lives serving Beaufort County, reminding some officers how lucky they are.

"I took a moment to reflect and remember I'm here today," said Cpl. Rowell.

But it also reminded them of the dangers they face each day. Every 74 minutes a police officer is killed somewhere in the US. One deputy told me it's night's like lasr night that remind them just how dangerous their jobs are.

Reported by: Holly Bristow, hbristow@wtoc.com