OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington State Patrol confirmed on Sunday that a 16-year-old force detective had died from COVID-19.
WSP says Eric Gunderson died after a bout with COVID-19, which they say he contracted while on duty in Washington state.
Gunderson was 38 years old and had served with WSP for 16 years. He is survived by his wife and two sons.
“Eric Gunderson was a respected soldier and public servant. This is the first death in service since we commemorated our first century of service in this state just a few weeks ago. As I had hoped our second century of service would be more forgiving, ”said WSP Chief John Batiste. “But serving the public, as we do, has inherent dangers and this pandemic has been an enemy of our agency and even of our state and nation. “
WSP claims Gunderson is the 32nd soldier to die in the line of duty since the patrol was established in 1921, 100 years ago.
Gunderson has been acclaimed for its adoption of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), particularly for surveying and investigating road closures, crash investigations and, in particular, the Amtrak train derailment in 2017 at DuPont.
Photo credit: Washington State Patrol
Gunderson traveled across the United States to represent WSP as the world’s premier agency for UAV use, the agency said. It was during one of these trips across the country that Gunderson contracted COVID.
“We will show our fallen hero the respect and honor that his service to our state and our agency deserves,” Batiste said. “For now, we’ll just stick together as we mourn the loss of our dear friend. “
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