‘Unwavering love:’ Community mourns loss of Jared Sasser

CHIPLEY – Washington County is mourning the loss of 37-year-old Jared Sasser, a Northwest Florida Reception Center employee who passed away Sunday, February 21, from injuries sustained in an ATV accident.

According to a Florida Highway Patrol report, a sedan was driving behind Sasser and a group of ATVs traveling along Country Club Boulevard in Sunny Hills when the sedan proceeded to pass the ATVs and attempted to turn left on Ross Court. The sedan struck Sasser’s ATV midturn, resulting the fatal crash.

Those who knew Sasser best say that his passing brings a loss felt deeply within the community – and across the state within his Department of Corrections family.

“[The passing of] Sgt. Jared Sasser is a devastating loss to the NWFRC family,” the facility’s Assistant Warden Eric Hall told The News on Wednesday. “He was loved and admired by so many. He will be carried in our hearts forever.”

Sasser, a 2002 graduate of Chipley High School, has worked for NWFRC for several years and quickly earned a reputation for not only being a reliable employee and co-worker, but also a dependable and loyal friend.

Sasser served as NWFRC’s safety sergeant. Known as a problem solver, his assistance was sought statewide by FDOC peers after he developed forms to better track safety assurances such as inspection checklists. Several of Sasser’s forms have now been implemented by other facilities across the state.

Sasser loved the outdoors, especially grilling, bass fishing, camping, and riding and “tinkering” with the side-by-side and other ATVs – but above all, Sasser loved people.

“Ask anyone who knew him, and they will tell you he always had a smile, a hug, and a greeting for everyone,” said his cousin, Shawn Sims. “If he was saying hi, it was ‘Hey, darlin’ or ‘Hey Bubba,’ and he was well known for that. His house was always ground zero for every event, and he just loved everybody.”

Sasser’s outgoing nature endeared him to those he worked with as well.

“He was simply a good-hearted person, always willing to help anyone on and off the job,” said friend and co-worker Charity Cochran. “He loved his family and spoke of them often. He will truly be missed by so many.

Terri Austin, another FDOC employee, echoed that sentiment, adding that Sasser took great pride in his family.

“He was always smiling, always willing to lend a hand to help, no matter the task,” she said. “He talked about his son, Lucas and his mom all the time and loved sharing their adventures with us. He was one of a kind and genuine in everything he did.”

“Lucas was his heart and soul,” said Sasser’s girlfriend, Amanda Holman, “and he was also like another dad and or honorary uncle to many other children as well, including my daughters, Montana and Haley. He was a stranger to none and family to all.”

“It didn’t matter if it was 2 p.m. or 2 a.m.,” added close friend Garret Hartzog. “He would never get mad or upset, and if you apologized for needing his help, he’d just shrug and say, ‘That’s why I’m here.’”

Sasser’s mother, Debra Sasser, said he was indeed the “go-to person”.

“He did everything for everybody, she said. “If you needed something, especially if there was a problem to figure out, you called him. He once stayed with me for three months after I had surgery and took care of everything. I felt bad that he was giving up all his free time for me, but he just said, ‘Mama, that’s what I’m here for; I promised Daddy that I’d take care of you.’ And he did. He took care of me and everyone else he met. His was an unwavering love.”

Debra says that unwavering love and sense of others before self followed Sasser into his final moments.

“At the scene of the accident, he wanted to know that Lucas and I were ok,” she said. “There he was, fatally injured, and he was telling folks to check on us, to be sure that we were all right. That’s just who he was, how fiercely he loved – and how he will always be remembered.”

This article originally appeared on Washington County News: ‘Unwavering love:’ Community mourns loss of Jared Sasser

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