Friends described Precinct 5 Deputy Constable Mark Diebold as a consummate law enforcement officer and a great friend.
Diebold died Thursday during tactical team qualifications, according to a news release from the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department. Deputy Diebold was finishing qualifications when it appears that he had a heart attack, but the official cause of death is still unknown, the release said.
Diebold is survived by his wife and three daughters.
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Diebold, 48, was born June 28, 1969. He worked for the Tarrant Couny Sheriff’s Department from 1994 to 2008, after which time he began working for the constable’s office.
“We are all one family,” said Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn, who was asked to speak for the family. “No matter what happens, we have our brothers and sisters to rely on for support. Not only to support each other, but to rise up and support Mark’s family. They need us more now than ever. Mark was an amazing person, and his light will be missed.”
Justice of the Peace Sergio De Leon called Diebold a gentle giant. Diebold, who worked in De Leon’s office, was the type of law enforcement officer who could face down the baddest of bad guys one moment and the next moment, help bring a child into the world, which he did.
Diebold’s baby delivery may have been the moment in his career that most resonated with the public, but among law enforcement he was known as a stand-up officer, De Leon said.
Last July, Diebold stopped a speeding Jeep and the man inside said his wife was about to have a baby. Diebold flipped on his sirens and lights, planning to escort the Granbury couple, Caleb and Destiny Hall, to a hospital in downtown Fort Worth.
Soon, he saw the Jeep pull to the side of the road, so he did the same.
“I said, ‘Caleb, pull to the side of the road. I’m having this baby,’ ” said Destiny Hall, 26, at the time. “He said, ‘Stop pushing.’
“I said, ‘I’m not pushing, but this baby is coming anyway.’ ”
Diebold called an ambulance but the baby would not wait, so he worked with the husband to complete the delivery. Diebold was there again when the baby had her first birthday and shared an imaginary tea-party with the child. Diebold was among the first to hear the new child’s cries.
“It was an amazing moment,” Diebold said. “It’s probably the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard.”
“Lately, everybody’s hearts have been down, with all that has happened” with the Dallas police shooting, Diebold said softly. “This was really uplifting.”
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De Leon said that’s what Diebold did wherever he worked — uplift hearts.
Deputy Diebold was one of the founding members of the Tarrant County Constable Special Response Team, De Leon said. Diebold’s SWAT training was instrumental in getting that unit started, De Leon said.
Diebold was also part of the protective detail that escorted former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, former Mexican President Vincente Fox and former Nigerian President Olusegun Obassnjo, while they were in Fort Worth, De Leon said.
De Leon also credits Diebold with saving him from serious injury.
“We were working off duty at a night club and I was confronted with two or three individuals who were two or three times my size,” De Leon said. “I found a man at the night club and asked if he had seen that rather large officer there on the other side of the club, and he said yes.
“I asked him to please go and get him. When Diebold came over we were able to handle the situation. Had he not come over, I’m not sure that we would be talking right now.”
Diebold was an amazing person, said David McClelland, Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department chief deputy.
“He was a person who could light up a room,” McClelland said.
Funeral arrangements have not been finalized.