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NAPLES, Italy — A high-ranking U.S. Navy official died Friday after returning to his command following a routine Navy physical readiness test, officials said.

The death of Capt. Werner Jurinka, 45, came as a "huge shock" for friends and co-workers, who saw him as a healthy, young man.

"It’s a huge shock, and what makes it so difficult to bear, is that it comes from nowhere," said British Royal Navy Capt. David Heley, head of current operations for Allied Maritime Command Component Naples, where Jurinka also worked.

Jurinka, who served as director of staff for the command commonly called CC-MAR, died Friday mid-morning after returning to his command after completing a routine Navy PT test at the Gricignano support site.

A cause of death has not yet been determined, said Lt. Cmdr. Wendy Snyder, a Navy spokeswoman.

"It’s not a cliché to say he made an immediate and positive impact," Heley said during a phone interview Monday. "He was a most unique individual. He had a way of getting the best out of people in the friendliest way possible."

"He was one of life’s players," he said, using a British phrase.

Jurinka, who reported to Naples last summer after serving in the Pacific Fleet, was driving to Allied Joint Force Command in Bagnoli on Friday after completing his PT test at the support site, roughly 40 minutes away. The PRT coordinator was in the car with him, Snyder said.

"Capt. Jurinka felt fine during the test. He began to feel ill while driving back to the base and pulled over. Shortly after pulling over, he collapsed," Snyder said. "The PRT coordinator called an ambulance, began CPR, and went in the ambulance with him [to the hospital.]" Jurinka died at the Italian San Paolo hospital, Snyder said.

He made no health complaints during the test, she said.

Jurinka is survived by his wife and three children. A local memorial service is being coordinated through the chaplain’s office and casualty assistance calls officer.

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