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Police Academy recruit dies

COVINGTON - A 54-year-old police academy recruit died Friday while taking part in a training exercise at DeKalb Technical College's Law Enforcement Academy, according to Cory Thompson, public relations and information director with the school.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation will be looking into the exact cause of death, Thompson said, adding that the Covington Police Department and the DeKalb Tech Police Department will be assisting. The recruit's name has not been released.

Thompson said the recruit had been working with the Walton County Sheriff's Office for the past two years and was attempting to gain certification to become a patrol officer.

The incident occurred about 4 p.m. as the recruit was "engaged in a defensive tactic training exercise in which he is told to arrest a suspect who is resisting arrest," a printed press release furnished by the school states.

In the scenario the "suspect" is a DeKalb Tech Law Enforcement Academy instructor.

"Instructors say it is common for a recruit to hold their breath as the excitement of the moment increases ... the training recruit was told to breathe while he was involved in the exercise," the report states.

Witnesses said the man passed out and 911 was immediately called for assistance. CPR was performed and he was brought back to consciousness after a defibrillator was used, but while en route to Newton Medical Center, he lost consciousness again and was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The recruit was a member of a class of 19, the third such class of recruits to enroll in the school's academy since it opened in January of this year.

"This is an extremely difficult situation," said Beverly Thomas, the director for the academy. "We are a close knit group of people, and today we lost a member of our family."

Barbara Knowles can be reached at barbara.knowles@newtoncitizen.com.