Saturday, December 4, 2021

Washington State trooper who died of COVID hadn’t been vaccinated yet, family says

Washington State Patrol Trooper Eric Gunderson, who died of COVID-19 last month at age 38, was not vaccinated, but likely this fall, family members said in a statement Friday. Is.

Gunderson was best known for leading the State Patrol’s part in the Amtrak 501 investigation, when a speeding passenger train veered off a curve at DuPont, killing three people and killing three people in late 2017. Dozens were injured. Gunderson, a detective specializing in accident reconstruction, mapped the scene using that. The WSP said it was a pioneer in the use of unmanned aircraft to reduce the length of road closures following drone footage, and accidents.

He died on 26 September, according to Chief John Batiste, and is the 32nd soldier to die in the line of duty.

More on the COVID-19 Pandemic

Gunderson contracted the coronavirus while traveling for work, said the family statement, which was released Friday by WSP communications director Chris Loftis. Although state patrol officers said Gunderson had caught the virus that causes COVID-19 while at work, they did not disclose Gunderson’s vaccination status, prompting questions from the news media.

The family described him as in peak physical condition, active in the SWAT team and coaching their boys. “He thought – we all thought – that Covid was something that happened to someone else. He was not in a high-risk group,” the statement said.

He became ill while traveling, when travel restrictions were being loosened “and there was a feeling that Covid was in decline,” the family said. around the same time, Gov. Jay Inslee issued a vaccine mandate with an October 18 deadline for state employees to comply or risk termination.

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Gunderson became ill and died six weeks later.

“We are pretty sure that if he had the chance, he would have followed the direction of the vaccine mandate. Unfortunately, they did not do so,” the statement said.

The statement criticizes those who speculated or condemned him on social media.

“His death is a tragedy. This is not a symbol. This is not a statement. It is not part of the argument of one side over the argument of the other. It is only the demise of a good husband, a wonderful father and a busy young man from Covid.”

The statement said family members would have preferred to “let this painful part of a traumatic time pass,” but the Seattle Times made an official public-disclosure request to WSP about their vaccination status. “Patrol respects the wishes of our family to keep Eric’s passing out of the political arena and to focus on his life of service and sacrifice.”

The Seattle Times has also sought information on how the State Patrol determined that Gunderson contracted the coronavirus at work.

Meanwhile, WSP reported that despite lawsuits and controversy over Inslee’s mandate, 93% of employees showed proof of vaccination as of last week. Several US law enforcement agencies, including Chicago and Seattle, show a low percentage with the likelihood that resignation or suspension will result in their rank being depleted.

Nation World News Desk
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