The family of Alex Sable alleges county police were negligent during a water training exercise at the Community College of Baltimore County in Dundalk. Sable’s widow, Rebecca, and three children filed the lawsuit in Baltimore County Circuit Court.
Spokesmen for the police department and County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.
Sable, 37, was training to become a member of the York County Quick Response Team, according to the lawsuit filed last month. On May 6, 2018, he participated in a Baltimore County Police tactical team water exercise at CCBC.
As part of the exercise, he had two 10-pound weights on his shoulders and was required to tread water for two minutes while wearing boots, pants and a long-sleeved shirt, the lawsuit states.
Sable “was observed to be struggling to remain above water," according to the lawsuit. When he got out, his lips were discolored and his face was pale. A police medic identified only as “Officer Luck” jogged with him, the lawsuit says.
Sable later took part in another water exercise in which he was required to tread for 10 minutes. That time, he went underwater for about 10 seconds and was pulled out of the pool, according to the lawsuit. Another police medic, identified as “Officer Dietz,” patted him on the back and told him to “cough it up.”
He had no pulse and wasn’t breathing, the lawsuit states. A county fire department medic tried to give Sable oxygen, but the mask was missing from resuscitator equipment provided by the police, according to the lawsuit. It took several additional minutes to get a mask.
Sable was taken to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center and was in cardiac arrest when he arrived, the lawsuit states. He was revived after 19 minutes of CPR and seven doses of epinephrine.
The officer died three days later on May 9, with cardiac arrhythmia listed as the cause of death, according to the lawsuit.
“We feel that had he been taken out of the swimming pool earlier, that he wouldn’t have died,” said David Ellin, the family’s attorney.
The lawsuit names the county government, police department, Dietz and Luck as defendants.