published: Friday, December 07, 2012
County mourns Kevin Megno -- great cop, caring child advocate
By CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY
AVON PARK -- Law enforcement and school communities mourn the unexpected death of Deputy Sheriff Kevin Megno, 55, who collapsed in his home Tuesday night.
Megno served 25 years in law enforcement, in his home state of Maine, with the Avon Park Police Department and finally with the Highlands County Sheriff's Office.
Remembered as an excellent officer and generous man, Megno influenced hundreds of children through the years he worked as a school resource officer in both elementary and secondary schools. He was the resource officer at Avon Park Middle School at the time of his death, and preparing to begin the 2013 D.A.R.E programs for Avon and Park elementary schools' fifth grades -- a program he had operated for years.
"It's been a shock," said Pam Burnham, principal of Avon Elementary. "He was such a gentleman and so kind to the kids. The fifth-grade kids in particular loved him, because of D.A.R.E."
Burnham paused for a moment. "I'm shocked," she said again, her voice quiet. "He responded whenever we needed help, cooperated in every way he could."
Seth Lambert, assistant principal at Avon Park High School, worked with Megno when he was the resource officer there -- at the time as a member of the APPD.
"He was a guy who was very fair," Lambert said. "He really got along with the kids, enjoyed talking to them and establishing relationships. He was a high quality officer and a very well respected man on campus.
"We wanted him back after he left for the middle school."
Lambert too paused for thought. "He was a great guy. His death has hit me hard. I am very shocked."
"It's just heartbreaking," said Jeff Williams, who worked as a school resource officer under Megno when both were in the APPD. "He was a mentor, both for me and the kids," Williams said. "He loved the kids and working around them. He was a father figure and interested in guidance. He helped kids to make good choices. Kevin was a real friend to many."
Williams added that Megno had made the adjustment to the sheriff's office easily. "He was happy to work there," Williams said. "I asked him how it was and he told me, 'I'm impressed. I like being a deputy.'"
After his family and the students with whom he worked, Megno loved riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle best, Williams said.
In a press release, Sheriff Susan Benton wrote, "Deputy Megno truly loved his job ... I could feel (his) positive energy ... I only wish he had more time to continue serving and making the difference in the lives of kids."
The cause of death has not yet been confirmed, but it is presumed he suffered a heart attack.
A service will be Sunday at the Stephenson-Nelson Funeral Home at 4001 Sebring Parkway. Visitation is 3 p.m.; services begin at 4 p.m.
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