GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – Sgt. Eric Twisdale is being remembered for his years of service in law enforcement. He died due to complications related to the coronavirus, according to a news release Wednesday from the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.
Twisdale entered the field of law enforcement in the early 90s at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the news release states, before joining the CCSO in 1998.
“Along the way, he earned a reputation for being courageous and having a huge heart,” the Clay County Sheriff’s Office said.
Clay County Sheriff Michelle Cook told News4Jax she not only lost a deputy, but a dear friend.
“I had worked with his brother in Jacksonville, and I’ve known Eric but we became closer friends over the past year," Cook told News4Jax. “We were texting back and forth while he’s been in the hospital. I was checking in on him everyday and he would text me back.
“A few days ago, when he stopped texting, I knew it was getting bad.”
In 2014, Twisdale was awarded the agency’s Lifesaving Award for rescuing someone from drowning.
He was also recognized as Clay County’s deputy of the year for “displaying exceptional valor during the apprehension of two murder suspects.” In 2015, deputies said a chase started in St. Augustine after two teens robbed and shot a convenience store clerk and then took off, leading deputies through St. Johns, Putnam and Clay counties.
According to police, the teens were driving over medians and traveling in both the northbound and southbound lanes, putting other lives in danger. Twisdale decided the chase needed to stop.
It did -- on the Governor’s Creek Bridge.
Twisdale said he purposely aimed to stop the chase on the bridge, because if the suspects were able to get out and run, the only place they could go would be the water.
But it didn’t come to that. The teens were arrested on the bridge.
“Just quite honestly, I didn’t think about being nervous at the time," Twisdale said when he was honored. "Of course afterward, I kind of looked back at everything and saw the video a couple of days later, and it was pretty intense.”
During his service, Twisdale was assigned to the patrol division before being transferred to the detective division. In 2010, he was promoted to sergeant.
According to Sheriff’s Office, Twisdale served on the dive team, crisis negotiation team and he served on the honor guard. He was supervisor of the crime scene unit when he died.
“Eric Twisdale was an amazing police officer. Amazing man. Serious, yet funny. Had a dry sense of humor. Loved to give the people, the folks that he worked with a hard time," Cook said. “This loss leaves a huge hole in the sheriffs office.”
Cook said Twisdale leaves behind a large family. He has two daughters and grandchildren.
The Sheriff’s Office said Twisdale’s passing is being treated as a line of duty death. At 10 a.m. Thursday, his body will be escorted to Hardage Giddens Funeral Home in Riverside.
Police agencies shared well-wishes to the family and the department on social media:
The OPPD would like to express our deepest condolences to the family of CCSO Sgt Eric Twisdale who passed away due to complications with Covid-19. Twisdale was an inspiration to us all, and the impact he had on those that knew him or that served with him will never be forgotten. pic.twitter.com/ltmYwx1ee0— Orange Park Police (@OPPoliceDept) September 16, 2020
#JSO would like to express our condolences to the family of @ccsofl Sergeant Eric Twisdale, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, and the Clay County community.— Jax Sheriff's Office (@JSOPIO) September 16, 2020
Thank you for your service, Sergeant Twisdale. https://t.co/5ApPYK3xp3
We are saddened to report that our @ccsofl family is saying good bye to a great deputy tonight. Sergeant Eric Twisdale has been recognized for multiple awards since he started serving his community in the early 90's. You will be deeply missed, Sergeant. 🙏 https://t.co/p0mQok0kaC— Florida Sheriffs (@FLSheriffs) September 17, 2020