‘He was like a brother to me’

Jan. 18, 2013 @ 10:34 AM

Eric Scott was a Renaissance man.

He did many things well – photography, diving, mentoring.

So when Scott, a retired captain in the Durham County Sheriff’s Office, died last weekend, he left a hole in the hearts of his friends and family, but also a rich legacy.

“You won’t find another person like him,” Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews, who worked with Scott for 30 years, said. “He was unique.”

Andrews remembers a day in the 1980s when he and Scott, both members of the sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team, were doing practice dives at Falls Lake. Things didn’t go exactly as planned.

Scott wanted Andrews to follow him deep into the water.

“I did, and we got down about 35 feet,” he said. “And all of a sudden, my head felt a rock wall. I felt to my left and my right, and there were rocks all around me. So I grabbed Eric’s wrist and we went back up to the surface.”

It turned out to be an old Indian cave.

“We had a very good understanding then,” Andrews said: ‘Don’t ever do that to me again!’ ”

That day symbolized the men’s friendship: It ran deep.

“Eric was like a brother to me,” Andrews said. “He knew how to touch you, how to reach you.”

“If you spent any time with him, you knew where his heart laid – it was in people.”

Don Ladd, chief deputy with the Durham County Sheriff’s Office, agreed.

“He was the epitome of giving back,” Ladd said.

After Scott’s wake on Tuesday, Ladd said, people he didn’t know came up to him and told stories of how Scott helped them during hard times.

Scott would often visit victims after a break-in, or help parents deal with their troubled children as an off-duty security officer at Carrington Middle School.

“I don’t recall Eric ever crossing people,” Ladd said. “He would speak his mind, but he did it in a loving, teaching way.’’

When Ladd joined the sheriff’s office, Scott helped mentor him and other young deputies.

“He had a way of correcting you so that you learned from it, and you didn’t do it again,” Ladd said. “But it was a loving, carrying sort of correcting. If they could bottle that and give it to new employees in any agency, law enforcement would be tremendously better.”

In addition to his mentoring and diving skills, Scott was a talented photographer. If the sheriff held a function, Scott would be there, moving quietly around the room with his camera to get the right angle.

Scott’s trademark logo was a tiny mouse, which he inserted on many things he shot.

“It wasn’t obvious, and didn’t detract from the photo,” Ladd said.

Just weeks before his death, Scott spent many hours of his own time photographing everyone in the sheriff’s office for a yearbook.

“Eric was one of those folks who, whatever he did, did it to the best of his ability,” Ladd said. “If he committed to it, he committed to it. He didn’t do things halfway.”

Andrews agreed, adding that Scott was a man of his word.

“If Eric told you that he was going to be somewhere, you could count on him being there,” Andrews said. “He ran on Eric Scott time. He might be 15 or 20 minutes late, but he would be there.”

Andrews said that Scott had a hard time turning people down.

“All of us at the sheriff’s office are very heavy-hearted, but we can’t question what God has called Eric to do,” Andrews said. “Like so many times before, when we called on Eric to do something, he had a hard time saying no.

“So I know that when God asked for him to come, Eric couldn’t say no.”