A 38-year-old Washington State Patrol trooper died after contracting COVID-19 while traveling for work, the state agency announced Sunday.
Trooper Detective Eric Gunderson died early Sunday “after a courageous battle with (COVID-19) contracted while in service to the state of Washington,” the WSP announced in a news release. Gunderson was commissioned in April 2008 and was serving in District 1 of the agency, which covers Pierce and Thurston counties.
“We will show our fallen hero the respect and honors his service to our state and agency deserves,” WSP Chief John R. Baptiste said in a statement. “For now, we will simply hold one another close as we grieve the loss of our great friend.”
Gunderson was praised for his work using unmanned aerial vehicles to aid crash investigations, and for his work following the 2017 Amtrak train derailment in DuPont. He leaves behind a wife and two children.
The agency says Gunderson contracted the virus while on a trip on behalf of the WSP discussing the agency’s use of UAV technology.
He is the 32nd member of the 100-year-old agency to die in the line of duty.
A spokesman for the agency said Sunday he did not know whether Gunderson had been vaccinated against the virus. The agency is requiring its employees receive the vaccine or seek an exemption under Gov. Jay Inslee’s orders. About half of the agency had been vaccinated as of Sept. 6.
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