Deputy Sebastian Diana
Photo credit: Orange County Sheriff's Office
An Orange County deputy died this weekend, after a lengthy battle with an illness sheriff's officials said he caught while trying to save the life of an infant.
Deputy Sebastian Diana, 40, died on Saturday after a more than five-year battle with an undisclosed illness, which the Sheriff's Office said he contracted while on a 911 call in 2006.
According to an incident report, Diana was one of three deputies called to an Orange County apartment about 5:20 a.m. on Feb. 27, 2006, where a mother had reported that her 3-month-old boy was not breathing.
Deputies arriving on scene reported finding the child's mother screaming that her baby was dead. The child was lying on a blanket, and was not breathing, deputies said.
As Diana conducted CPR on the boy, he came into contact with the infant's vomit, the Sheriff's Office said Wednesday.
"In many ways, the very life that he was trying to save may have cost him his own life," Sheriff's Jerry Demings said.
The boy died, and the illness Diana contracted trying to save the baby's life claimed his on Saturday, the Sheriff's Office said.
Diana joined the Sheriff's Office in 1999, and had previously served in the U.S. Army, officials said. According to a paid obituary, he was stationed in Panama, Germany and Fort Hood, Texas, during his six years of Army service.
According to the Sheriff's Office, Diana was awarded the Medal of Merit and a Community Service Ribbon after he once again responded to an incident involving an infant not breathing in 2007.
Wearing a protective mask, he conducted CPR on the infant until EMS arrived, said Cpl. Susan Soto, a sheriff's spokeswoman.
"Due to Sebastian's immediate and selfless response, he was able to save the child's life," she said.
On Wednesday, Demings praised Diana's willingness to put himself at risk in order to save lives.
"That's what law-enforcement officers do," Demings said. "They put themselves in harm's way every day."
Diana is one of two Orange County deputies who have died since Saturday. Deputy First Class Michael Erickson fell ill at the YMCA Aquatic Center on International Drive on Wednesday, and later died.
Diana is survived his wife and four children. A memorial fund has been established at the Orlando Federal Credit Union, according to the Sheriff's Office. Donations can be made at any branch.
The Sheriff's Office plans to pursue line-of-duty death benefits for Diana's family.
A memorial service is scheduled for family and friends on Friday, with a funeral Saturday. Funeral arrangements are being handled by Baldwin Fairchild Conway Chapel in Orlando.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service