York City Mayor Michael Helfrich talks about Alex Sable, a York City Police officer who died Wednesday after suffering a heart attack during training on Sunday. York Dispatch


A York City Police officer who suffered a medical emergency over the weekend has died. 

York City said in a news release Thursday, May 10, that Officer Alex Sable, 37, was participating in a SWAT tactical training exercise Sunday, May 6, in Baltimore County, Maryland, when he suffered cardiac arrest.

The Baltimore County Police Department said Sable was on a 12-person team conducting a water exercise as a part of a SWAT school class at the Community College of Baltimore County-Dundalk Campus pool. He was training to become a member of the York County Quick Response Team, according to York City officials.

Show Thumbnails
Show Captions

Sable was given immediate medical treatment from medics who were on the scene, and he was taken to a Baltimore-area hospital, where he was under critical care until he died Wednesday, May 9, officials said.

Sable lived in Lancaster County with his wife and three young children. He had been with the York City Police Department for four years.

Reaction: Mayor Michael Helfrich said he had heard about what happened to Sable on Sunday, the day Sable had a heart attack.

Talking to reporters Thursday, Helfrich said that news of Sable's death was even worse since he had been holding out hope. He said Sable died at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

The mayor said he never knew Sable personally but had heard he was "laid-back" and a fun guy to be around.

He noted Sable's dedication to the police department.

"He had absolute dedication to the department, and to the City of York, and that's why he was enhancing his skills, so he could serve us better," Helfrich said.

The Fraternal Order of Police state lodge President Les Neri issued a statement regarding Sable's death Thursday morning.

"Officer Sable is a hero who worked every day to keep the City of York and its citizens safe. He deserves our enduring gratitude and recognition for performing this duty. We will forever honor his service, sacrifice and memory. Our hearts go out to Officer Sable's Family, the York City Police Department and FOP White Rose Lodge No. 15 at this very difficult time," Neri stated. 

Gov. Tom Wolf ordered the commonwealth flag in York City to be flown at half-staff to honor Sable. The flag will remain lowered until Sable's interment, according to a release from the governor's office.

In a statement, state Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York, said Sable will be remembered as a loving father, devoted husband and a dedicated protector to York City.

"The fact that he had the courage to put his life on the line every day to protect ours is the true definition of heroism and speaks volumes to his honorable character," her statement reads in part.

More: Deputy marshal, a York County resident, killed in Harrisburg shooting

More: Thousands pay tribute to fallen York City firefighters

Difficult year: The York City emergency responder community has seen a tragic few months since the start of the year.

Two York City firefighters died in the line of duty in March, and a deputy U.S. marshal died in Harrisburg after he was shot serving a warrant. A York City Police officer was also shot during that incident.

“Unfortunately, it’s another sad day in my brief administration," Helfrich told reporters Thursday morning.

"One word sums it up and the word just keeps popping into my mind: I am miserable," he said.

The governor noted York City's recent tragedies in a statement issued Thursday.

"This has been a difficult year for the greater York public safety community, but we are reminded each day of the sacrifices they all make on behalf of their fellow citizens. We will be forever grateful for Alex's service," Wolf said. 

On Thursday, the York City Fire Department tweeted a picture of the thin blue line logo on top of its fire department logo on one of its fire trucks.

The police department stood by the fire department during their loss, and the fire department will stand by them during theirs, the tweet reads.

In January, deputy U.S. Marshal Christopher Hill, a York County resident, was killed while serving a warrant in Harrisburg. Hill, 45, was shot and killed when 31-year-old Kevin Sturgis, of Philadelpha, opened fire on a group of U.S. Marshals Task Force members who were arresting a woman on Jan. 18, according to officials. 

Show Thumbnails
Show Captions

The Dauphin County District Attorney's Office said Hill was struck by another member of the task force who was firing at Sturgis.

Wounded in the shooting was York City Police Officer Kyle Pitts, a 10-year veteran of the department. Pitts was shot in the elbow.

York City firefighters Ivan Flanscha, 50, and Zachary Anthony, 29, died March 22 after a wall collapsed while they were at the former Weaver Piano & Organ Co. building at 127 N. Broad St. 

Flanscha had been with the department since 1999, and Anthony had been there since 2010.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.

Read or Share this story: