Fla. police recruit dies after exercise session at academy
A 43-year-old police recruit died Thursday afternoon following an "apparent medical episode"
By Dan Scanlan
The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A 43-year-old police recruit died Thursday afternoon following an "apparent medical episode" after a routine exercise regimen at the police academy at Florida State College at Jacksonville's South campus, the Sheriff's Office said.
Tony Alexander Cephas, married with two children and a military veteran, fell ill during a scheduled water break and was declared dead after he was taken to a hospital, Director Ron Lendvay said.
Announcing the death with a "very heavy heart," Lendvay said Cephas had just begun the law enforcement program only 10 days ago.
"They had been exercising as a class for a little over 15 minutes when they were given a water break," Lendvay said. "... His condition deteriorated as he was transported to Baptist North, where he ultimately passed away despite life-saving efforts."
Cephas had been living in Jacksonville as he trained at the academy, but Lendvay said he was from South Florida. During the water break, an instructor noticed Cephas was in some kind of discomfort, and after checking with him, called over paramedics who are routinely staged at the academy during exercises, Lendvay said.
The exercise session was a standard part of the academy training, much like the military undergo, and was done with safety in mind, Lendvay said.
"Unfortunately, sometimes even with help staged there, there's just no recovery from some medical episodes," Lendvay said. "They were engaged in physical training. It's part of what we have to do to prepare recruits to come out and do what they have to do on the street. It's just a very sad occurrence this evening."
Homicide detectives are interviewing other recruits and staff to determine what more may have happened, but "there are no signs pointing to anything other than a medical emergency," Lendvay said.
The medical examiner will do an autopsy, and advocates are helping the family and class of 39 recruits.
©2019 The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.)
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