Deputies Sebastian Diana and Michael Erickson
Photo credit: Orange County Sheriff's Office
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. --
The Orange County Sheriff's Department is mourning the deaths of two deputies that died within just days of each other.
Homicide detective 48-year-old Michael Erickson collapsed and died Wednesday night. The department was already reeling from the death of 40-year-old Deputy Sebastian Diana over the weekend.
Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said his deputies are shaken to the core about the deaths. Both men were on the force for more than a decade and were very well-liked and highly respected.
"He was a very neighborly guy, very outgoing, very well respected here within our organization," said Demings.
On Wednesday, Erickson collapsed while playing racquetball with a neighbor at the YMCA aquatic center off International Drive.
Erickson worked for the sheriff's department for 13 years and was set to testify in the Casey Anthony murder trial. Erickson was the first detective to interview Lee Anthony in 2008 and also interviewed Casey's neighbor, who loaned her a shovel during the time Caylee was missing.
WFTV’s legal analyst Bill Shaeffer says any statements detective Erickson made before his death can be used at trial.
"The state can use his deposition as substantive evidence as though he was there in person," said Sheaffer.
Just days before Erickson’s death, the sheriff's office lost Diana, who contracted a bacterial infection after giving a 3-month-old mouth-to-mouth resuscitation back in 2006.
The child didn't make it and Diana was sick off and on for the past few years. Family members said his heart finally gave out.
"In many ways the life he was trying to save may have caused his own life," said Demings."That's what law enforcement officers do. They put themselves in harm's way every day and that's what it's all about."
Because he died in the line of duty, Diana’s family will receive a portion of his pay and benefits for life.
Both men leave behind a wife and children.
Copyright 2011 by wftv.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.