URBANA — Champaign County Sheriff’s Office employees are mourning the loss of a young colleague who died Thursday night while out for a run.
Sheriff Dustin Heuerman said Taylor Briggs, 22, of Savoy suffered an unknown medical emergency that caused him to collapse in a residential neighborhood in Savoy.
A woman arriving home discovered him, dressed in running clothes, on a grassy parkway about 9:50 p.m.
She performed CPR on him until first responders were able to relieve her. He was pronounced dead at Carle Foundation Hospital at 10:40 p.m.
An autopsy conducted Friday did not give his loved ones and co-workers any definite answers other than that he died from an unspecified natural cause.
“We ruled out any trauma,” said Coroner Duane Northrup, who said he has sent tissue and blood samples to a lab to be examined in hopes of pinpointing a cause of death.
Well-liked by his colleagues, the rookie had been on his own in patrol for only a few months, said his supervisor, Lt. Tony Shaw.
“We were totally caught off guard and surprised by this. It has definitely impacted our Champaign County Sheriff’s Office family,” said Shaw, adding he was unaware of any underlying medical conditions Deputy Briggs might have had.
Deputy Briggs, who was about 6-foot-4 and weighed over 200 pounds, played football at Dunlap High School, north of Peoria, and at Illinois College in Jacksonville.
He was engaged to be married later this year.
Deputy Briggs was hired by the sheriff’s office in September and had graduated from the University of Illinois Police Training Institute in December.
He was assigned to the patrol division and was currently on a 2 p.m.-to-2 a.m. shift, designed to overlap the 6 a.m.-to-6 p.m. and 6 p.m.-to-6 a.m. shifts worked by the rest of the patrol force.
Shaw, who called these “trying times for law enforcement,” said he recently read an article authored by an older law-enforcement employee who posed the question, “Would you encourage or discourage someone from entering the field these days?”
Echoing the author’s conclusion, Shaw said: “We want to encourage the right people to enter this field, and he was the right person to do this job.”
Heuerman, who hired Deputy Briggs, called him a “true public servant (who) was compassionate and always had the best interests of Champaign County residents at heart. He will be greatly missed.”
Early Friday morning, deputies processed with their fallen colleague from Carle Foundation Hospital to the coroner’s office in Urbana and took time to listen to a prayer from police and fire chaplain Lutz Braunig of Mahomet before offering condolences to his fiancée and her family.
Deputy Briggs’ parents live in Texas. He was the oldest of three children.