- September 16, 2015
Haley Pine had just turned 6 when her daddy, a deputy with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, was shot and killed while on duty in 2014. Her brothers, Ryker and Maddox, were just 4 years old and 14 months old. Their mother, Bridget Pine, was a widow at the age of 34.
Today, eight years later, Scott Pine remains a part of their daily lives through photographs, stories and the occasional cookie cake, Scott’s favorite dessert. Haley is now 14, Ryker is 13, and Maddox is 9. And even though the youngest doesn’t remember his father, he still holds him close to his heart.
Bridget Pine wants people to remember her husband and his sacrifices, and she and her children continue to accept invitations to honor Scott. The most recent event was held Friday night, Oct. 14, at Deputy Scott Pine Community Park, in Horizon West, where the Windermere High Wolverines play their home football games.
Bridget and her three children were introduced before the game. She tossed the coin and spoke to some of the football players, the family accepted a football signed by the senior players, and then Maddox took his place among the players to run through the tunnel to signal the start of the game.
“That was so impactful for the family,” Bridget said of the experience.
Also present were several members of the Sheriff’s Office and Scott Boyd, the former Orange County commissioner who proposed the park’s name.
“Some of these kids, they know they are playing on a nice field and they know the name of it but don’t know the story behind it,” she said. “It gives us a chance to share Scott’s legacy and to tell his story. It’s an opportunity for us to let them know, ‘This is why we are here.’
“Scott loved football, and he would love to know they are playing on a field named after him,” she said. “It brings our family a lot of joy to be able to honor their father in such a way, and it’s a joy to watch these kids on the field. They let us stay at track level during the game, and it was just very special. And they scored at the end. We were really happy.”
Bridget said her children look forward to events honoring their father, especially when they are held at “his” park.
“A PART OF OUR LIVES”
The family’s sense of loss is felt just as deeply today.
“In our house we talk about him almost every day,” Bridget said of Scott. “We’re always talking about Dad. Even eight years later, we have good days and bad days. Some days are more challenging than others. There are bigger events that happen in their lives that are hard but happy at the same time. But we try to find joy in each of them. We do it for Scott; he would want us to have the same experiences that everyone else has.”
Bridget said their children are resilient and are doing better than she is. All three have discovered the world of competitive gymnastics.
“We have learned to find ways to find joy even (with) him not being here,” she said, “but there are days that are very challenging and sad. As time goes, you figure out how to function but still keep him a part of our lives.”
Scott is celebrated on his birthday, July 12.
“We always have some type of cookie cake because that was his favorite,” Bridget said. “We always sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to him. We go out to the cemetery usually, and we take something new. The kids make things. We’ve done stepping stones in the past, or we hang different flags. We put new flowers out, of course.”
Holiday meals usually include one of Scott’s favorite dishes. At Christmastime, the four of them take a family photo and include a picture of their daddy.
LEGACY LIVES ON
Phillip Pacheco, a Windermere High parent, started the tradition of inviting the Pine family to a Wolverine football game.
“A couple games had gone by, and I was sitting … in the stands, and I saw the Deputy Scott Pine sign and wondered if (the school) had invited the Pines,” he said.
The school administration loved the idea, and a tradition was born. The pandemic put a temporary halt to the annual event, but this year marked its return.
“I think it’s really important for the community to remember the sacrifices that take place,” Pacheco said.
In addition to the park being named for Deputy Pine, there are other ways Scott is remembered.
The Orange County Sheriff Foundation gives out an annual award called the Scott Pine Award of Excellence. It is presented to a member of the sheriff’s office who represents Scott’s character, Bridget said.
She typically goes to these events.
“Anything that we are offered to attend to honor Scott, we always try to be there,” she said. “We’re so fortunate with the community, even after so many years, still reaching out to us. … It’s just wonderful to our family that they reach out to us and remember us and Scott and his legacy. … We’re thankful for the community remembering our sacrifice.”
The Pine family lives in Winter Garden, and Bridget is a physical therapist working in acute care primarily at Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies. Haley, Ryker and Maddox stay busy with school and competitive gymnastics.