Putnam County Judge James Reitz had just closed a case on Friday morning when he asked a court official for help.
"John, I think you have to help me here," Mary Ellen Odell told CNN.
Reitz then collapsed. The officer performed CPR on the judge until he was taken by ambulance to the hospital, Odell said. The hospital worked on him for about 30 to 45 minutes before he was pronounced dead. He was 57 years old.
Reitz was known for his drug court program, which offered people with addictive offenses the opportunity to seek treatment and avoid jail.
Terrence Murphy, a former New York State Senator, told CNN he often collaborated with Reitz on the drug court. Murphy chaired the New York State Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Dependence.
"He ran the best drug court in New York State," Murphy said. "He's literally saved people's lives, he's an icon and painfully missed, our professional relationship has gone beyond personal friendship with him and his wife Barbara, and I'm still in shock."
Odell said the death of Reitz was a loss to the community.
"He was a giant among the men in this community and we will feel his loss for a very long time," Odell said. "I personally lost a dear friend, and Putnam County lost a dedicated official whose passion was to help those who needed help."