Last Updated: 9:36 p.m.
Sgt. Dominic Guida of the Bunnell Police Department was rushed to AdventHealth Palm Coast this afternoon after suffering a cardiac event while in training with Flagler County sheriff’s deputies at the county’s training facility and burn tower on Justice Lane in Bunnell. He died at the hospital less than 90 minutes after the initial heart attack.
“They were in training, I don’t know the details, something about a heart attack, possible heart attack,” City Manager Alvin Jackson said as he was himself rushing to the hospital. A witness described an ambulance screaming down State Road 100 just before 4:30 p.m. toward the hospital, followed by some nine law enforcement vehicles.
“Dominic was a great officer, and an even better human being, and we are all suffering the loss of Sgt. Guida,” Bunnell Police Chief Tom Foster said this evening as he was driving to the hospital. “We are deeply saddened by his passing.” Guida was 43.
Robinson, along with Bunnell Commissioners Tonya Gordon and Robert Barnes, were at AdventHealth when they learned of Guida’s death.
The medical episode began shortly after 4 p.m. as Guida was in the fire tower. CPR was administered several times and he was rushed to AdventHealth.
At 5:26 p.m., Sheriff Rick Staly issued a department-wide email, as he always does when a fellow-law enforcement officer dies in the line of duty anywhere in Florida: “I am extremely saddened to advise you of the passing of Bunnell Police Department Sgt. Dominic Guida today about 5:00pm,” the sheriff wrote. “Sgt. Guida was participating ERT’s multi-agency field force training on Justice Lane when it is believed he suffered a medical event. Deputies, officers and paramedics along with AdventHealth ER staff valiantly tried to save his life but God called him home.”
Staly recalled Guida’s service with the Sheriff’s Office “before leaving law enforcement, later returning to his law enforcement calling with the Bunnell Police Department. This loss hits our local law enforcement family hard. Please support and be there for each other during this difficult time.”
Guida is the first Bunnell Police Department officer to die in the line of duty in the city’s history. He is the second law enforcement officer in Flagler County to die in the line of duty in less than three months. The Flagler County Sheriff’s Paul Luciano, a corrections deputy, died in late August from covid complications.
At AdventHealth, Chief Operating Officer Wally de Aquino personally took charge of accommodating what had turned into a momentous gathering of local officials and law enforcement, with patrol cars filling the parking lot and the vigil spilling largely around the ambulance bay on the Emergency Department side of the hospital. De Aquino made the hospital’s community room available for a critical incident stress debriefing involving all the personnel that had been at the training site at the time of Guida’s episode. The debriefing is a counseling-type approach that helps personnel cope with the tragedy. It involved members of the sheriff’s dispatch center, who handled the call, paramedics, and Bunnell police–some 40 people in all.
The mood on the grounds of the hospital was somber and sad, and paradoxically, it radiated with Guida’s effect on a huge part of Flagler’s law enforcement community over the years, and beyond that community: his death almost immediately touched off reactions across the county that marked the extent to which he’d moved lives and imprinted memories in people far afield from law enforcement. Some of Guida’s family members were there, as was his girlfriend.
It would fall on the sheriff to tell Foster that his officer had passed, when Foster arrived at the hospital.
Around 9 p.m., an enormous procession set out from the hospital to escort Guida’s body to the medical examiner’s office in St. Augustine. “I can tell you looking in my rearview mirror right now, this procession is well over a mile long,” Staly said when he was reached at one point during the drive, with some 50 law enforcement units, lights flashing, driving first through back roads, the north on U.S. 1, where they were either joined or getting assistance from the Florida Highway Patrol and the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office’s motorcycle squad.
“This is tradition in a line of duty deaths, and Dominic certainly deserves all of that,” Staly said. “So we’ve offered our full assistance to Chief Foster and the Bunnell Police Department and we will probably be handling some of the calls for the city of Bunnell Police Department while they support their community and our brothers and sisters at Bunnell PD.” The Sheriff’s Office will be working in the background to help coordinate the city’s needs.
Guida had been with the Bunnell Police Department since 2016. Foster promoted him to sergeant in February 2016, alongside Senior Officer Sgt. Matt Mortimer. Guida had served as a Flagler County Sheriff’s deputy for 12 years before joining the city department, and had been a K-9 officer. He was also president of the Flagler Fallen Heroes Lodge 165, and was the signer of that organization’s letter when it endorsed Sheriff Rick Staly in Staly’s re-election campaign in 2020.
“I am devastated,” Bunnell Mayor Catherine Robinson said, “and this is such a tragedy for the community, Bunnell and myself. He was one of the good guys and my heart is broken. What a huge loss.”
“Sgt. Guida was a great officer,” Gordon, a city commissioner who’s been especially focused on championing the police department, said. “He was a people person and was loved by everyone he met. He was a loyal, honorable man that you could always count on when needed and always make you laugh. This truly breaks my heart for his family, his blue family, friends and the City of Bunnell. It’s really a devastating loss for the City.”
City Commissioner John Rogers was in Daytona when he got a “911” text from Jackson, was also rushing to the hospital as, it seemed, innumerable others from around the county. Bunnell counts about a dozen officers.
Rogers had known Guida since they were teen-agers. “I could bring you back to the days when they had Twin Oaks Restaurant and Pizzeria in the Hammock, when I was a teenager and we used to go up there every Friday night and hang out,” Rogers said of Guida and his family. Guida’s grandfather owned the pizzeria before it was acquired by what became Sea Colony. “He was just a little kid. I’ve known him all his life.”
Rogers and Guida shared a Connecticut ancestry in common. Guida’s grandfather would show them how to make pizzas. Guida’s family extends to the judiciary and Charles Ceno, His brother Charles Cino, the attorney for Bunnell’s planning board and a hearing officer in Daytona Beach.
Guida grew up locally and was an alumni of Flagler Palm Coast High School. “He’s a great guy. He just has a great temperament, just a great attitude,” Rogers said. “His family is a great family, he’s an awesome guy. Ive never seen him in a bad mood, he’s always happy go lucky. He’s in our thoughts and prayers. We’re praying for him right now.”
Shortly before his resignation from the Sheriff’s Office in December 2014, Guida was the organizer of a Tip-a-Cop event at Bob Evans in Palm Coast, to benefit the Special Olympics Torch Run that was due to go through the city that April. It was one of his special callings: he was a power-lifting coach for Special Olympics athletes, and had been working with children through the Special Olympics for about five years by that point. Naturally, at such events as the sheriff’s annual Flagler Night Out, when law enforcement showcases its services and wares, Guida was there, with his K-9, always a hit with children.
He resigned in 2014 soon after the death of his father, which hit him hard. He felt he had to seek a new career, and for about two years he was in the trucking industry out of state. But he couldn’t stay away. “Over the years as so many cops do, they come back because the calling to help the community is that strong,” Staly said, calling Guida “definitely a role model, what law enforcement should aspirate to be.”
In 2017, Foster in his report to the commission noted that Guida “participated in the second meeting of ‘at risk’ youth and pastors to discuss current issues in policing, while enjoying a slice of pizza.”
“This guy is amazing! A big heart and always looking to help out in our community,” Kerri Anderson had written in response to an image Bunnell government had posted on its Facebook page in 2018, showing Guida with three children and his police cruiser, after he participated in that year’s Back to School Bash at Bunnell’s Carver Center.
And over the years he was there, of course, with his K-9, tracking down suspects and apprehending them.
“This is all very numbing time and hard to believe we lost him so fast,” Jackson said later this evening in a statement issued by the city. “He was truly a kind, humble, fun loving and lively Police Sergeant. There will be a great hole in our City and Police Department. My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Dominic, our Police Chief and our officers.”
In his email to the Sheriff’s staff, Staly wrote: “I have spoken with Chief Foster and extended our heartfelt sympathy and condolences and have offered him the full support of FCSO during this tragic time. All sworn personnel should wear their mourning bands over their badge and Agency flags are to be lowered to half-mast until further notice. At this time there is no further information.”
Jay Rodenborn says
Guida, thank you for being a great friend and co-worker for the past 17 years. I will never forget the good times, laughs and memories.
Rest easy my friend
Perry Mitrano says
I’m heartbroken to hear of Dominic’s passing. I worked with him in Bunnell, a person of immeasurable warmth and friendship.
Rest in peace!
Tammy Kook says
Didn’t know Dominic long, he was a great guy! So saddened by this news! RIP friend.
Condolences to his family, friends and co-workers.
Shirley M Anderson says
You will be so missed. I knew you since you were a kid at the restraunt on A1A. You are an outstanding person and will be remembered by so many. I’m shocked to here about this. It’s been years since I’ve seen you since I retired but it was great all those years we worked together. Hugs and prayers.
Michael Van Buren says
Brother, I am heartbroken. Thank you for your service to the citizens of Flagler County, your friendship and most importantly your positive attitude and infectious smile and laugh. God bless brother and Godspeed.
Charles "Bub" Robson says
Rest in peace, Sgt. Guida, did not know you but knew the Guida Family well back in the day when I worked for FCSO in the Hammock area. Too young to pass. You will not be forgotten by the THIN BLUE lINE.
Judy B says
Thank you for your service to the community. Prayers to the family.
Amazing human being . I remember when I was on the force seeing him pull up was not only a joy to have some good backup , it was always followed by some laughs which made the night so much easier . He will be missed greatly . Guida got sloppy 5ths though after everyone went before him including his K-9 . Love you man .
So sorry for the loss of Sgt. Guida. Prayers go out to his family and fellow LEO’s. A huge loss for our community. Thank yoi for your service sir.
Mark Linde says
Guida was the best of the best. A truly honorable and amazing cop. I’ll never forget his smile and laugh that could light up any room. He will be missed greatly. I was very blessed just to have known and served with this great man. Godspeed brother.
I am so saddened to hear of Sgt. Guida’s passing. He was the nicest, most polite, delightful, LEO I have known professionally. Great loss, a great individual, a great professional.
Sgt Guida, may you Rest In Peace.
My deepest condolences to his family and to BPD.
Stan Petkovsek says
This man, friend, was truly one of a kind and could put a smile on anyone’s face. This world just got a little darker today and heaven a little brighter. Will miss you brother.
Warren Greenberg says
It was a pleasure to work with you during my short stint with the BPD.
Robert NOCELLA says
I am shocked and sadden to hear the passing of a great person. A dedicated football player and loyal person. You will be missed and I pray for your family.
Gladstone Bucknor says
I can still vividly remember rides in the back of his truck after football practice and those turns that took forever because he didn’t have power steering. He musta fit 7 guys at least in the back of that truck bed. Just a good dude who could always make you laugh. I didn’t make an effort to keep in touch after I left Florida and I regret that. I’m saddened to hear of his passing and at the same time grateful to learn of his life of service. God bless you, Dom. May you Rest In Peace.
Noreen Kiesla says
I’m so sad to hear about Guida he was such a great guy. I worked with him at the sheriff’s office and he was always so happy, he would come into the office often and talk to me always made me laugh. He had such a cute smile and greatest laugh, he’s definitely going to be missed. Thank you for your service my friend. R.I.P. Dominic
I cannot believe youre gone. The happiest person I knew. All smiles,
even in bad times. Wish I was there when you passed. I will always have a hole in my heart for losing you. The last 5 years weren’t good for us, but I will never forget the happy times. Their were many.
Good bye Sgt. . Now you will be with Dad. Say hello for me. You’re gone too young. So many things to do.
Rest in peace . My heart is broken. Love you so much.💖
James Manfre says
A great loss to law enforcement and the community. Dominic was the prototype of a community police officer always upbeat and professional. It was an honor to serve with him. Rest in peace.
Jay Gardner says
So sorry for the loss to Guida’s family. He always seemed to be smiling. It’s such a loss to our community and to law enforcement. He will be missed by all that had the good fortune to know him. RIP.
Trailer Bob says
My condolences to his family and friends. I never met him, but now I wish I did.
God works in mysterious ways.
He was a great officer loved by many . He always check up on my daughter she had a Stalker issue and he always made sure she was ok did random checks to make sure he was leaving her alone. My condolences 🙏 to his family and his co workers and friends he will be truly missed
KIANN F. says
In complete and utter Shock and disbelief! Asking God Why him? why now? why do good people go first? The impermanence of life just confirms that death is the only thing in life that is, unfortunately permanent.
taking a moment to pray. if you would like to bless and pray with me please read a little poem:
goodbyes are not forever, they are not the end,
it simply means we will miss you until we meet again.
when we look up at the sky and notice the clear blue,
we know our guardian angel that is looking down, is you.
when we look at the sky so gloomy and gray
we know it is you reminding us of a better way.
when we look at the sky so dark filled with stars
we know it is you who guards us from afar
and when we look to the sky and see the sun shinning bright
we know it is you smiling providing us a guiding light.
you are truly a hero and we honor you each and every day. thank you for the good you exuded daily. the world is less bright because you are gone. please watch over your family, friends and fellow officers. RIP GUIDA.
Jared Zecca says
Dominic was one of the happiest, most positive people I knew. I was lucky to call him a teammate while playing football at FPC. Later in life, I was lucky to call him neighbor while we lived on the same street in Seminole Woods. Whenever we saw each other we would stop to catch up. I will always remember the laughs and memories we shared. The community and the world lost a great man.
Concerned Citizen says
Sad to hear of Sgt. Guida’s passing. Condolences to his family and co-workers.
This has been a hard year for losses. I sure hope we have a better year next year. Sigh.
Kristal valenti says
He was my favorite officer in Bunnell I would see him all the time he will be missed dearly
Palm coast says
My condolences. But I just have one question, was he recently vaccinated or not ??
That is no one bussiness and breaking Hippa law . Have some respect.
KIANN F. says
why does that matter? maybe desantis should get involved with your abrupt inappropriate questioning.
Tim Sturman says
Dom was coming to my house at 1830 hrs and was going to help me with my shepherd dog. He was one of the nicest people I leave know/worked with. Y’all who know him know that Cain was psycho! I remember being in the woods looking for a suspect and Dom said that Cain is off lead! Shit I ran like hell😂 I am sorry for his family and I will never forget you buddy! You were a good man. I’m sure you and Cain are in heaven having your arguments like you always did with him😊
I’m truly appreciative that I got to work with Dominic for as long as I did. He was always one that lightened the mood, made ya laugh and beyond all that was just a good man. Love ya brother!
Edward L Stark says
Just before this happened, I was outside doing yard work and he stopped and we chatted for a while. I was thanking him for doing a job I wouldn’t do and he laughed about how he liked helping people. The last thing I said to him was to “be safe out there”.
Gonna miss stopping him as he passes my house to tell him to, “be safe out there”
He was truly a good guy
Rex & Mary Russell says
Our condolences to the family he was & always will be such a good guy!
Steve witkowski says
May God bless you and your family Dom. I worked with Dom at Halifax plantation prior to his employment with the Flagler Sheriff’s department. I truly have such great memories of those days at the time I was doing weight training and Dom came to me and asked to join me after work in Flagler bch so that he could get into shape to pass the physical assessment for the sheriff’s department. Dom’s smile was magnetic you couldn’t help but smile when you saw his it got us through those days at 120 degrees in the shade in my garage lifting lol 😆 on many days we were both worried about the other falling out sweating 😅🥵 bullet’s. I remember Dom being so nervous prior to the test I new he would make it and am so proud to have had the opportunity to assist such a great young man. I was so proud of him when I read in the paper that he had become a k9 officer arresting a fugitive in Palm coast. I’m so proud of you Dom to see what an impact you have left on this community you are gone but you will never be forgotten RISE IN PEACE MY BROTHER I LOVE YOU.