Feb. 17--A 30-year-old St. Paul police officer who twice received the department's Life Saving Award died Saturday, Feb. 16, from medical complications that arose recently while he was on duty.
Josh Lynaugh, who was assigned to Eastern District patrol, died early Saturday at Regions Hospital, said Howie Padilla, St. Paul police spokesman. Padilla said he couldn't elaborate on what happened to Lynaugh the evening of Feb. 8, but he said it had not been the result of an assault.
Lynaugh was one of 45 recruits who graduated from the St. Paul police academy in December 2007, the largest St. Paul police class in 30 years, but still a tightly knit one. His classmates elected him president, and he said in a speech at graduation: "Nothing worthwhile comes easily. All of us are proof of that."
Tim Lynaugh, Josh's father, was a St. Paul police officer and has since retired as a sergeant; he surprised his son at graduation by giving him his badge, pinning it on him.
Then, in the weeks after graduation, Josh Lynaugh and his classmates had to mourn the loss of one of their own. Joseph Plant, 24, who graduated with them, started work as an officer Jan. 7, 2008, and died suddenly five days later (he wasn't on duty at the time), likely of an undiagnosed heart problem, his family has said. Lynaugh was one of the pallbearers at Plant's funeral.
In addition to the Eastern District, Lynaugh had worked as a Central District patrol officer. He had 16 commendations, and letters of
commendation or appreciation in his personnel file, Padilla said. He received the department's Medal of Commendation in December 2011, according to Padilla.
Lynaugh received the department's Life Saving Award in 2009. In July 2008, he and Daniel Ficcadenti, who Lynaugh graduated from the police academy with, rescued a man who had been beaten and left to die in the Mississippi River. It was pitch-black, and the two officers stretched out as far as they could into the water and held onto the man until firefighters arrived.
In 2011, Lynaugh earned the same award after he and two other officers responded to a suicide attempt in progress. They made their way into the residence, where a man tried to stop them and became combative. In the home, they found a locked bathroom door. After hearing a crash in the bathroom, they forced open the door and found a man hanging from a sheet that had been tied around pipes. He was turning blue. The officers hoisted the man and cut the sheet from the pipes.
The St. Paul police union considers Lynaugh's death as occurring in the line of duty. The last such death was in 2005, when Sgt. Gerald Vick was fatally shot.
Chris McGuire, an officer and St. Paul Police Federation union steward, said in a statement: "For those of you who had the opportunity to know Josh, no one's heart was bigger. No one cared about being a cop, specifically a 'street cop' ... more then him or worked harder at being the best, and he was one of the best."
At a news conference Saturday night, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman called Lynaugh "a hell of a cop."
Coleman said he "fought hard, saved lives and served the city of St. Paul well. He was a great kid, a great officer and a great member of our family -- and his family."
Funeral arrangements for Lynaugh are pending, Padilla said.
Mara H. Gottfried can be reached at 651-228-5262 or [email protected]. Follow her at twitter.com/MaraGottfried or twitter.com/ppUsualSuspects.
Copyright 2013 - Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.