Florida police officer dies after suffering cardiac event during training, officials say

Law enforcement officers and community members are mourning the death of Bunnell Police Sgt. Dominic Guida, who suffered a “cardiac event” during training with the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday.

Guida, 43, suffered the cardiac problem Tuesday afternoon while at the fire tower complex in Bunnell as part of emergency response team training. Guida was rushed to Advent Health Palm Coast where he died, according to a press release.

Guida was the first Bunnell police officer to ever die in the line of duty since the city was incorporated in 1913.

Bunnell Police Chief Tom Foster said in a phone interview Wednesday that Guida was a great individual and an excellent officer who will be missed.

“He was a very special person and he was truly a professional in law enforcement,” Foster said. “He was active in the community. He lived his life to the fullest and he touched many people during his short time with us.”

Guiida joined the Bunnell Police Department in July 2016 and worked his way through the ranks, being promoted to sergeant in January 2020.

Foster said he was working to help his 15-member grief-stricken Police Department get through the tragedy.

“I can say the members of the Bunnell Police Department and the Sheriff’s Office where he worked prior to coming here are all heartbroken,” Foster said.

He said Guida had a great sense of humor.

“He was fun to be around,” Foster said. “He had a great sense of humor and he was loved by all of us.”

Guida also had a talent for community policing, the chief said.

“He was embedded in the community and he really did try to make a difference,” Foster said. “He was great with kids. He was my go-to guy when it came to special projects. And we are going to miss him.”

Guida was a “dedicated law enforcement officer”

Sheriff Rick Staly said that Guida served with the Sheriff’s Office for about 14 years, including as a K9 handler, before leaving to pursue a career in trucking. Guida returned to law enforcement when he joined the Bunnell Police Department.

Staly said that when he became sheriff he tried to recruit Guida, but Guida wanted to continue serving Bunnell.

Guida was a “dedicated law enforcement officer,” Staly said. “You could always count on him to be a good strong backup and always did his job well.”

The sheriff said Guida had suffered a heart attack six or eight years ago.

The Sheriff’s Office is helping the Bunnell Police Department with calls as the officers mourn their officer’s death. The Sheriff’s Office is also helping plan Guida’s funeral.

Bunnell Mayor Catherine D. Robinson, Vice Mayor John Rogers, Commissioner Tonya Gordon and Commissioner Bob Barnes were at the hospital when the city learned of the officer’s death.

“This is a day of sorrow and tragedy. The death of Dominic Guida is a profound loss to the City and the Bunnell Police Department,” according to a statement Robinson made in the Sheriff’s Office press release.

“This is all very numbing time and hard to believe we lost him so fast. He was truly a kind, humble, fun-loving and lively police sergeant. There will be a great hole in our City and Police Department,” said City Manager Alvin B. Jackson, Jr. in the release.

The city will announce any arrangements for public ceremonies once they are determined.

Guida’s death is the second line of duty death this year of a member of a Flagler County law enforcement agency.

Flagler County Sheriff’s Office Detention Deputy Paul Luciano, 60, died on Aug. 26 of complications from COVID-19, which the Sheriff’s Office said he likely contracted during an outbreak of the virus at the jail.