Sheriff’s cadet dies in training

A cadet who was training to be a Santa Clara County Sheriff’s jail deputy has died. Authorities said the recruit unexpectedly passed away during training at the academy on Wednesday. 39-year-old Koichi John Nishimura was weeks away from graduating.

The medical examiner will determine the exact cause of death. His is raising questions on how recruits train.

At the sheriff's training facility in Morgan Hill, authorities are reviewing the circumstances that led to the death of Nishimura.

The sheriff’s office issued a statement that read, “It is with great sadness we report the unexpected passing of one of our recruits. The recruit had been participating in defensive tactics training at the academy yesterday. The recruit was rushed to the hospital by ambulance; however, tragically did not survive.”

Those familiar with Nishimura’s death said he collapsed after a physically taxing and strenuous exercise.

“It sounds like he was overly exerting himself, over challenged, and that led to him collapsing,” said Sgt. Sean Allen of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office.

Allen is a former board member with the Correctional Peace Officers Association. He is familiar with the exercise and said it entails running around a building, then a simulated assault where the cadet is met with physical resistance. The instructor wears a padded suit, similar to the Redman suit, while the cadet is equipped with a helmet, padded gear and a foam baton.

“It’s a difficult training and historically we've had issues with it,” said Allen. “Of course, it’s tragic.”

“I’ve seen not only at our academy, but at other academies in the Bay Area,” said Retired Santa Clara County Undersheriff John Hirokawa. “Concussions, broken noses even though they’re wearing a helmet.”

The county’s former undersheriff is hoping for an independent review of the training at the academy. Other factors to consider dehydration or- a pre-existing medical condition yet a cadet's health is often vetted.

“It’s a sad situation,” said Hirokawa. “I'm believing it's probably the first death at the academy that's been going on for at least 10 to 15 years now.”

Nishimura worked as a custody support assistant at the San Jose Main Jail before becoming a cadet. He leaves behind a wife. The family has asked for privacy at this time.