In the days after a crash on a Florida highway took the life of his daughter, Bruce Richard of Centereach wondered why it had happened.
The answers did not come easily after Chelsea Renee Richard, 30, a Florida state trooper and former Brookhaven Town public safety officer, was killed on May 3 while responding to an accident near Ocala, northwest of Orlando.
"When something like this happens, you try to figure out why," Richard said Thursday, after a ceremony honoring his daughter at Brookhaven Town Hall. A flag was lowered to half-staff in Chelsea Richard's honor while police, sheriff's deputies and correction officers saluted and a bugler played "Taps."
Chelsea Richard, a 2001 graduate of Patchogue-Medford High School, was a week short of her 31st birthday when she was killed. She had been divorced and was raising her 4-year-old son, Clayton Richard Valdes.
Bruce Richard found a measure of solace when Florida Gov. Rick Scott, after attending Richard's funeral, announced he would veto a controversial bill raising the state's speed limit from 70 to 75.
"If just one person was saved because the speed limit was not going to 75, then Chelsea did her job," Bruce Richard said.
Bruce Richard, 62, a retired Huntington Town public safety director, said his daughter had left Long Island for Florida to pursue her dream of working in law enforcement. She joined the Florida Highway Patrol in 2005 and rose to the rank of master trooper.
Her boyfriend, Jamie Mulverhill, a Florida highway patrol sergeant, had planned to propose to Richard on May 3, Bruce Richard said.
But that afternoon, Chelsea Richard responded to an accident on Interstate 75. While she spoke to a tow-truck driver and the father of a passenger involved in the accident, a pickup truck swerved to avoid a second collision that had occurred nearby.
The pickup struck Richard, the father and the tow truck driver, killing all three.
Scott was among thousands of mourners, including troopers and police from 10 states, who attended Richard's funeral on May 8 in Ocala, according to local news reports.
Days later, in an interview with the Miami Herald, Scott said he would veto the bill raising the speed limit "to stand with law enforcement. . . . I want everybody to be safe."
Bruce Richard was pleased with the veto. "She was doing what she loved," he said. "I guess if you're going to go, it's best to go doing what you love."