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Law enforcement officers and firefighters from various agencies escorted the flag-draped casket of Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Adam Levison into the University of New Mexico arena on Wednesday. .
The 30-year-old was hailed as ‘the best of us’ and a ‘moral compass’ by family and friends at the last of four memorial services for first responders killed in a helicopter crash in July .
He was also described as compassionate, yet driven, hardworking, and a highly skilled MP and patriot.
Levison was among those killed in the July 16 crash south of Las Vegas, New Mexico, where they were dropping buckets of water and assisting with air logistics to help suppress the East Mesa fire.
Others killed were Bernalillo County Deputy Sheriff Larry Koren, Lt. Fred Beers III, and Lt. Matthew King, a Bernalillo County Fire Department rescue specialist.
Pipers played as the casket was carried into the arena as large screens above photos flashed of Levison, who was also a technical sergeant in the New Mexico Air National Guard, where he served for more than a decade as a combat engineer.
Sheriff Manuel Gonzales said Levison was “a very positive, driven, kind, hardworking and enthusiastic individual.”
Gonzales told a story that Levison was among the deputies who responded to a child custody situation. Levison distracted a frightened, confused, and traumatized 2-year-old by allowing the child to play with his vehicle’s siren and lights.
“He focused on the victim,” Gonzales said. “And he said to this kid, ‘Don’t worry, I’m going to be there for you.’ ”
Levison, he noted, had “hundreds and hundreds of hours of practice, trying to get better and trying to be the best Michael he could be.” Following this training, Levison served as a crisis negotiator, field investigator, field training officer, emergency response team leader, tactical flight officer, and member of the reconnaissance unit. and gang intelligence.
Levison’s mother, Suzanne Piñeda-Levison, told those gathered that “my life is changed forever” because of the life and death of her son. “I’m no different from all of you, watching my kids succeed from their first words, their first steps, their first accomplishments and being thrilled with it all,” she said.
His father, Daniel Levison, said Michael “was known to have a big heart and a great sense of humor”.
He recalled going to dinner at Michael’s once and entering through the open garage door found his son sitting on the floor polishing the springs of his Camaro ZL1 with a toothbrush. Michael, he said, “never did anything halfway, he was a man with a mission.
“Life is what you make of it – my son taught me that,” he added
Phil Levison, also a sheriff’s deputy, said his brother Michael was still considered “the best of us”. He called his brother “a moral compass and someone to turn to for much-needed advice when needed.”
Longtime Levison partner Noelle Ashoo said there was greatness about him.
“Just because he’s a patriot and a service man doesn’t make him great,” she said. It was more because of the kind of person he was.
She noted that over a decade ago, Levison told her that “no matter what happens to me, I promise you will be taken care of.”
He delivers on that promise, she told family, colleagues and friends. “Because of all of you and what Michael meant to you, I never felt alone or scared or frightened,” she said. “He may not be with us, but he’s always watching over us.”
Among the hundreds of people in the stands of the arena, many shared their stories about Levison.
Marissa Torrez said she met Levison through mutual friends a few years ago. “Since then we just clicked and he was checking me in to make sure I was okay or if I needed anything.”
Her young children were celebrating their birthdays during a time of COVID restrictions and Levison, she said, held a drive-by parade for them in front of their house, complete with sheriff’s vehicles and fire trucks.
“It was just amazing,” Torrez said. “He was amazing.”
Theresa Montoya, records management supervisor for the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, not only knew Levison from his work for the department, “but I knew Michael because he went to school with my son.” , she said, choking back her tears. “He was a great kid, very driven, very focused on what he wanted to do with his life. He wanted to join the police. If there was anyone who was in need, he was the first person to help.
Levison, a graduate of Volcano Vista High School, later attended the University of New Mexico, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology.
In addition to his mother, father, brother, and girlfriend, Levison is also survived by his siblings Andrew Levison, Melissa Levison, and Nikolaus Tremmel; his stepmother, Marie Levison; grandmother Guadalupe Piñeda; and many nieces and nephews.
After the memorial service, Levison was interred in Santa Fe National Cemetery.