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The Alto Police Department lost one of its own with the death of Officer Ryan Vasquez Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 7.

Vasquez, 43, died after being hospitalized with COVID-19.

He first indicated he wasn’t feeling well Saturday, Aug. 28, and was diagnosed at a hospital in Tyler, according to Chief Joe Houghton. He returned home Sunday, but began to feel bad again and drove himself to a hospital in Dallas that evening.

“If you saw any pictures of him, you noticed he was a big guy,” Houghton said, but also described Vasquez as probably as nice as they come.

“He was a great person to be around,” Houghton said, noting he was a huge asset to the department.

Vasquez became a member of the Alto Police Department in August 2020, marking his one year anniversary with APD Aug. 14. He had previously served with the Corrigan Police Department and had more than 15 years experience in law enforcement.

Service arrangements are unknown.

Houghton is, however, working to arrange a police escort to Alto. He stated any other county agency that desired to participate was welcome.

“He didn’t want to have a funeral, he wanted to have a celebration. He didn’t want anybody to be sad,” Houghton said.

A statement from the city of Alto was posted to Facebook.

“Please keep the family of Officer Ryan Vasquez in your thoughts and prayers,” it stated. “We are saddened by his passing and appreciate all those who have reached out.”

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