SEATTLE — A 38-year-old Washington State Patrol (WSP) trooper died of COVID-19 early Sunday morning.
The WSP said Trooper Detective Eric Gunderson contracted the virus “while in service to the state of Washington.” Gunderson served with the WSP for nearly 16 years.
The WSP said Gunderson died peacefully surrounded by family, friends and loved ones. He is survived by his wife Kameron (Kami), and sons Blake, 13, and Braden, 10.
Gunderson is the 32nd member of the WSP to died in the line of duty.
“Eric Gunderson was a respected trooper and public servant,” said WSP Chief John R. Batiste. “His is the first line of duty death since we commemorated our first century of service to this state just a few weeks ago. How I had hoped our second century of service would be more forgiving.” He added, “But serving the public, as we do, has inherent dangers and this pandemic has been a foe to our agency and indeed our state and nation.”
A memorial service is currently being planned, and more information is expected to be announced at a later date.
“We will show our fallen hero the respect and honors his service to our state and agency deserves,” said Batiste. “For now, we simply will hold one another close as we grieve the loss of our dear friend.”
A spokesperson for WSP said Gunderson's family is choosing not to make his vaccination status publicly known.
"I don't know," said WSP spokesperson Chris Loftis of Gunderson's vaccination status. "I don't need to know. It's none of my business."
Regardless of what choice Gunderson made about the COVID-19 vaccine, he is being honored for serving his state, Loftis said.
"We are in a divisive time, politically, culturally," Loftis said. "Let's lay this good man to rest and let's honor his family by honoring their request for not politicizing his loss. We're simply remembering his service and grieving his loss.”