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Father of UPD officer dies while on vacation in Cancun, Mexico

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Posted at 9:29 PM, Mar 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-29 23:29:56-04

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah - A Unified police officer lost his father after he drowned in an ocean current while on vacation with friends in Cancun, Mexico a few days before Easter.

Dariusz “Darek” Sulich, 55, is survived by his three children, Joanna, Krystian and Unified Police Officer Brandon Sulich.

A GoFundMe account was set up by the Darek Sulich's grandson. As of Tuesday evening, the family received over $17,000 in donations, which is enough bring the body back to Utah and help with funeral costs.

“There has been such an outpouring of support that my whole family is speechless over it,” Brandon Sulich said.

Brandon Sulich learned about the accident when his dad's friend called him from Cancun.

“They just said, ‘hey, you need to sit down,’" Brandon Sulich recalled. "Then they told me: ‘We went snorkeling and something happened, there might have been a rip tide and they tried to work on your dad with CPR.’ There was an off-duty firefighter that was there and he worked my dad for 25 minutes to no avail.”

Brandon Sulich said he was thankful the New York firefighter was there.

“A lot of people told me they saw the firefighter in tears getting off the boat. I know that feeling, when you give CPR over and over and it fails. You feel that guilt. I hope he is OK too,” the officer said.

At first, Brandon Sulich said, he couldn’t believe his dad, a former Polish national champion wrestler and European champion, had drowned.

“He was the strongest guy I knew. He was an Olympic wrestler,” the officer said. “He had a lot of years left. If that trip had gone the way it would have gone, our life would have been great, but some company’s negligence kind of robbed us from that.”

Darek Sulich’s friends told his son the guided snorkeling trip did not have proper lifesaving protocols or safety equipment.

“They kind of started painting a picture of some pretty terrible things that kind of angered me,” Brandon Sulich said. “The water was really choppy that day, and we’ve had people say no one should have been in that water.”

A minute or two after Darek Sulich was in the water, he started to panic and asked a crew member from the guided tour to get back on the boat, the officer was told.

Brandon Sulich was told his father was denied his request. The crew member said he needed to relax and keep swimming.

The officer's heartache turned to frustration.

“We are looking how to prevent this. I mean it is spring break! How many people’s kids are down there right now, swimming with insufficient safety measures? There is just a lot of concerning information, and that is what we are trying to address. We aren’t asking for any unreasonable safety measures we are asking for common sense,” he said.

Brandon Sulich said the Cancun trip was his dad’s first vacation in 30 years. He cannot believe it was his last.

In a way, the officer said, he got to say goodbye when he and his brother dropped their father off at the airport on March 18. They wished him a good trip and told him they loved him.

Funeral arrangements are currently underway.