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Veteran police officer dies of natural causes

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Karl Gabbitas

Karl Gabbitas

An off-duty Salt Lake City police officer died of apparent natural causes Monday morning while helping to direct traffic.

Sgt. Karl Gabbitas, a 14-year veteran of the department, was working the part-time job at a construction site at the intersection of 300 South and 400 East just after 8 a.m. His wife, also a Salt Lake police officer, also was working.

Another officer working with Gabbitas got out of her car momentarily to speak to the construction crew. When she came back she found Gabbitas slumped over the steering wheel of his car not breathing and with no pulse, said Salt Lake City police detective Dwayne Baird.

Gabbitas was pronounced dead a short time later. Baird said the death was not suspicious.

Gabbitas joined the department Sept. 7, 1990. He served on the SWAT Team, vice unit, the FBI Anti-Gang and Drug Investigation Unit, as a fugitive and warrants detective, in gang enforcement and narcotics, a Salt Lake police statement said.

He most recently worked in bike patrol on the city's west side.

He will be remembered for his work ethic and professional conduct as a police officer, the statement said.