1,000-PLUS PAY LAST RESPECTS
Funeral for sergeant who was on dive team draws personnel from more than 30 agencies
More than 1,000 lawenforcement personnel and other emergency responders lined Route 9W on Thursday to pay last respects to Ulster County Sheriff’s Sgt. Kerry Winters, whose death served as a reminder to them that their jobs come with risks.
Winters, 51, was a member of the sheriff’s dive team who died Sept. 22 after being found unconscious during an in-water training exercise at the Ashokan Reservoir in the town of Olive. The cause of his death remains under investigation.
A funeral procession led by police on motorcycles brought Winters’ casket to St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in the Saugerties hamlet of Glasco for a funeral Mass. The casket was carried from the hearse to the church by Winters’ fellow members of the Sheriff’s Office dive team.
About 150 people attended the Mass, while about 100 more stood outside the church.
After the Mass, Winters’ cas-
ket was driven along Route 9W to St. Mary of the Snow Cemetery in nearby Barclay Heights, where he was laid to rest. Members of more than 30 agencies, some from well outside the Mid-Hudson Valley, stood along the route to pay tribute.
“The reality of this job is what it is,” Greene County Sheriff’s Deputy J.R. DelVecchio said. “The reality of last week’s accident drives it home. You never know when the time is up. You never know when you cannot make it home.”
DelVecchio is a member of Greene County’s dive team, which often trains with Ulster’s.
Greene County Deputy Raymond Feml, also a dive team member, said the risks involved in responding to in-water calls cannot be underestimated.
“We go places people don’t want to go,” he said. “... The Hudson River ... is black water. You can’t see anything, you don’t know what you’re working with, you don’t know what you’re going to find.”
Ulster County Executive Michael Hein said before entering the church that Winters had “given everything” in service to the community.
“Our county is heartbroken,” Hein said. “All of our thoughts are with his family. I care deeply about each and every one of the people who serve, and this really speaks to the importance and danger of the job they do.”
Units taking part in the
lineup along U.S. Route 9W included state police; the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; the state Department of Environmental Conservation; the sheriff’s departments of Ulster, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Sullivan, Delaware, Broome, Oneida, Putnam and Rockland counties, and New York City; the New York City Department of Environmental Protection; city police from Poughkeepsie, Newburgh and Niagara Falls; town and village police from Saugerties, New Paltz, Shandaken, Rosendale, Marlborough, Ulster, Wappingers Falls, Fallsburg, Liberty and Yorktown; and fire departments and rescue squads from Saugerties, Woodstock, Ruby and Port Ewen.
Winters was a 30-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office who’s full-time assignment was being a corrections officer at the Ulster County Jail.
He lived in Saugerties and was a graduate of Saugerties High School. He was married and had two sons.
Led by law enforcement, the funeral procession for Ulster County Sheriff’s Sgt. Kerry Winters makes its way along Main Street in Glasco on Thursday.
Members of the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office dive team carry the casket of Sgt. Kerry Winters, a member of the team, outside St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Glasco on Thursday.
Sgt. Kerry Winters is shown in his dive gear.