There are heavy hearts in Lino Lakes after a veteran police sergeant died at a local restaurant, leaving behind a wife, three children and a community he cared for deeply.
Chris Bragelman, 37, seemed like a young, healthy man. His family members told FOX 9 News they saw no signs didn't know of any health issues that would have been worrisome; yet, he died on the patio of a popular bar and grill in Hugo early Sunday morning.
"He really, really liked his work," Emily Bragelman told FOX 9 News. "Put everything into it."
The grief-stricken widow admitted she is in a fog when talking about her husband.
"I don't even know what to think at this point," she said. "It doesn't feel real."
Emily and Chris Bragelman got married 4 1/2 years ago. They had two children together and worked together to raise a third child from his previous marriage.
Emily Bragelman said her husband loved being a father and loved being a cop in a small community in the northeast metro.
"He would do anything for anybody," she said. "That's why being a police officer was perfect for him."
After attending a department open house with his family on Saturday, Chris Bragelman met a friend for dinner and drinks at the Blue Heron Grill.
"It was a high school friend who was moving to Hawaii," explained Emily Bragelman.
Chris Bragelman reportedly complained of chest pains while out on the patio that evening. Sources say a server noticed he appeared to be asleep sometime after midnight, but no one could wake him.
Restaurant staff members called 911 after they realized Chris Bragelman wasn't breathing. Officials say emergency CPR was unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
In a written statement, the Washington County Sheriff's Office said there was "no obvious cause of death," and Emily Bragelman said her husband did not have any previous heart health issues.
The case remains under investigation, and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is assisting.