The Texas police officer who rose to internet fame after having a tea party with a toddler he helped deliver has died, officials said.
Tarrant County Deputy Constable Mark Diebold died Thursday, loved ones said. He was 48.
Though the official cause of death is unknown, those who knew him wrote on social media that he had suffered a heart attack and was in the ICU before he passed away.
Diebold, who leaves behind a wife and two daughters, had worked in law enforcement since 1994 and in the constable’s office since 2008.
He made headlines across the country after photos of himself and little Evelyn Hall enjoying an adorable tea party went viral earlier this year.
Diebold helped deliver the girl in a gas station parking lot on July 18, 2016, after her mother went into labor while on the way to the hospital.
Evelyn and Diebold marked the one-year anniversary of the momentous occasion with an outdoor bash at a table set for two.
Diebold was game for the photo shoot, appearing delighted to toast with the tot he helped bring into this world and raise a pinky as he took an imaginary sip of tea.
“You did way more than help with Evelyn's delivery... you brought a light into our life as well as countless of others,” Evelyn’s mother, Destiny Hall, wrote on Facebook in tribute to Diebold.
“He was family to us and an angel to our family,” she later said in a video posted to Facebook. “He is the world’s finest man and we’ll miss him so much.
“He was muscular and tattooed really, a kick-butt officer, but he had the biggest heart, the biggest smile and impacted our life in a huge way … I’ll miss him so much and am just devastated to hear of his loss,” she continued, choking back sobs as she spoke of her dear friend.
The Hall and Diebold families became close after the birth of Evelyn, who along with her family affectionately called the officer “Uncle Mark.”
“He blessed so many people and if you ever got a chance to know him, you’d know exactly what I’m talking about,” Hall said Thursday.
Cyndi Williams, who photographed Diebold’s tea party with Evelyn, agreed, writing: “The world lost one of the most genuine men I've ever been blessed to know... I am honored to have called you my friend. Today, you are truly an angel to us all.”