GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - A 29-year-old Grand Rapids police officer died Saturday of an apparent heart attack while jogging near his house, GRPD Chief Kevin Belk said in a news release.
Andrew Rusticus was training for an agility test to become a canine handler within the department. While jogging near his home in Dorr, he suffered a heart attack. A neighbor found him lying near the side of the road.
He was rushed to Metro Health Hospital and died at about 7 p.m. Saturday, according to Belk.
Friends remembered Rusticus as a man who valued family and faith.
He is survived by his wife, Michelle, and his two daughters, 3-year-old Baylee and 3-month-old Libby.
A graduate of Trinity Christian College in Illinois, Rusticus began his career as a police officer in the Chicago suburbs at the Woodridge Police Department in 2005.
Rusticus joined the GRPD in April 2009. He was laid off from the department at the end of 2009, but recalled in June 2010. He was assigned to the East Neighborhood Service Area. Belk said Rusticus was also a defensive tactics instructor.
During his time in Illinois and Grand Rapids, Rusticus received a handful of accolades and awards for exceptional work.
On Sunday, Belk said Rusticus was a dedicated public servant whose service to the community and the department will be greatly missed.
"He's wanted to be a police officer since he was 10 years old," said Belk. "This was a lifelong dream and something he was able to pursue. Sadly, a very promising career has been taken away."
One GRPD lieutenant honored Rusticus on Sunday by wearing a black-and-blue mourning band patch over his badge.
"He was very good at de-escalating circumstances," said Lt. Whitney Wu. "Just had a very genuine way about him and how he communicated with people. Very even-tempered, very patient."
Visitation will be held at Cook Funeral Home on Wednesday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Funeral services will be on Thursday at 1 p.m. at Dorr Christian Reformed Church.
Donations to the Rusticus family may be may at any PNC Bank Branch. Checks should be made payable to TBUFB0 Michelle Rusticus and the account number, 4244506225, should be written on the check.
Checks can also be mailed to Thin Blue Line of Michigan at PO Box 415, Howell, MI, 48844-0415.
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