Citrus County sheriff candidate dies

(WFLA) – A Citrus County sheriff candidate died unexpectedly. The announcement was made on Phil Royal’s campaign Facebook page Monday.

A post reads:

“Today the Royal for Sheriff campaign is deeply saddened to inform the citizens of Citrus County of the untimely death of Phil Royal. This unspeakable tragedy occurred as the result of a seizure Phil experienced while running in a charitable fundraising event. In the days to come, our community will share the deep grief of this tremendous lost. We ask for your prayers for his family and friends. We also ask that the family be given time to absorb the shock of this heartbreaking tragedy by giving them privacy. We will provide further information as it becomes available.”

A gathering is being held from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at the Seven Rivers Presbyterian Church in Lecanto.

“Today’s unexpected passing of Phil has left many of us sad, heartbroken and in need of a shoulder to cry on,” a Facebook post reads in part. “The sanctuary will be open for anyone who wants to pray and pastors will also be on-hand for guidance and prayer.”

The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office posted the following statement to Facebook:

“The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office is stunned by the unexpected death of former Sheriff’s Office Retired Captain Phil Royal. Phil died early this morning as a result of a seizure experienced while running in a charitable fundraising event.

Employees of our agency are deeply saddened and stunned by this tragic news. Many of us who worked with Phil throughout his many years in the agency and community are grieving over this terrible loss.

Our prayers are with the entire Royal family during this difficult time.

Phil became a deputy sheriff for the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office in 1990. Phil served throughout the agency as a patrol deputy, school resource officer, SWAT-medic, underwater recovery team commander, SCUBA diving instructor, crime scene technician, sergeant and lieutenant. Phil retired from the sheriff’s office in 2014 as a captain at the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office where he oversaw the Professional Standards and Training Division.

‘We will remember Phil’s 20 plus years of dedication to this agency and the community,’ says Sheriff Jeff Dawsy. ‘Our community has not only lost a great servant, but a great friend to so many here in Citrus County.'”

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