Sheriff Mark A. Hecker
Butler County Sheriff’s Office, Nebraska
End of Watch: Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Tour of Duty: 33 years
Badge Number: 925
Cause of Death: Heart attack
Date of Incident: August 8, 2014
Weapon Used: Person
Suspect Info: Not available
Agency Contact Information
Deputy Sheriff Marcus Siebken
Butler County Sheriff’s Office
451 N 5th Street
David City, NE 68632
Phone: (402) 367-7400
Sheriff Mark Hecker suffered a fatal heart attack after struggling with a mental subject he was attempting to take into emergency protective custody.
He began to feel ill several hours later and drove himself to a local hospital. His condition continued to worsen and he passed away four days later.
Sheriff Hecker had served with the Butler County Sheriff’s Office for 26 years and had previously served with the Humphries Police Department and David City Police Department for nine years. He is survived by his wife, six children, five grandchildren, and two brothers.
DAVID CITY — Ever since Friday, many people from Butler County and beyond its borders hoped and prayed. They hoped Butler County Sheriff Mark Hecker would recover from a heart attack he suffered on Friday. They learned Tuesday that he didn’t make it.
Hecker died Tuesday afternoon at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, said Butler County Attorney Julie Reiter. She received the news from the Hecker’s colleagues at the sheriff’s office.
Hecker turned 53 on Saturday, a day after he drove himself to the Butler County Health Care Center. He was sent to Lincoln for care, then as other complications arose, to UNMC. Hecker’s brother Mike Hecker of Seward had said that the sheriff was in critical condition Monday but “resting comfortably.”
A “Prayers for Mark Hecker” Facebook page had drawn the attention of hundreds of friends and well-wishers. The page reported Monday that Hecker had suffered significant damage to his heart and other organs.
Reiter, who had worked closely with the sheriff since she was elected in 2006, said that she was fortunate to work with such a low-key person who knew how to diffuse a tense situation. Though Hecker would be sorely missed by the community, she said, he had passed on his knowledge and attitude to his deputies.
“I couldn’t have asked to have a better sheriff for starting in this office,” Reiter said. “He knew what he was doing.”
Hecker was closing in on the end of his fourth term, and he was running unopposed on the November General Election Ballot.
The Facebook comments poured in through the weekend, with many emphasizing Hecker’s service to the public and his love for his family. He has five daughters who are all now adults.
Hecker was a member of the Rotary Club of David City and despite the demands of his job, he took his turn with other Rotarians delivering Wednesday Meals on Wheels. He was a dedicated Santa Claus for kids’ parties every holiday season, although the kids never figured out they were telling their wishes to the sheriff.
Although the public knew him as a sheriff, they also knew he was dedicated to his children and to the community. Every track and field season would find him helping with the timer stand. When local sports teams brought home a state trophy in any activity, they could count on a police escort into town.
When people asked Hecker how things were going, he usually said, “just peachy,” even if they weren’t.
As Tuesday came to a close, the Butler County Sheriff’s Office changed its Facebook profile to a blue stripe, a sign of mourning, and before long the same image was taken up by local fire departments, as well as individual firefighters and emergency responders.
County Attorney Julie Reiter said the sheriff’s office staff met on Monday, and Deputy Marcus Siebken, the department’s canine handler, was named the supervising deputy during Hecker’s absence.
Hecker grew up in the Surprise area. After graduating from David City High School, Hecker studied criminal justice for two years at what is now Northeast Community College in Norfolk before joining the David City Police Department at 19.
When 36-year Sheriff Leo Meister announced that he was retiring 1998, Hecker, Meister’s chief deputy at the time, pursued the job, winning 3-1 over David City Police Chief Steve Sunday, who had originally hired Hecker. The two made it apparent from the start that they’d continue to work together to serve the public. Aside from a close primary challenge by former Chief Deputy Tom Dozler in 2006, Hecker was unopposed in his other campaigns.
Hecker is survived by his daughters and his mother. Services are pending.