OLYMPIA, Wash. - A memorial service was held Monday for a Washington State Patrol trooper who died from COVID-19, which the agency said he contracted while on duty.
Detective Eric Gunderson, 38, died last month. He is survived by his wife Kameron and two children, ages 13 and 10.
Gunderson was the technology liaison in the patrol’s Criminal Investigation Division and a member of the patrol’s SWAT team. He frequently traveled around the country to speak about the state patrol’s use of drones.
Gunderson contracted the virus while providing training for other officers at an International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Orlando, Florida, according to the state patrol, KGW reported.
"Eric Gunderson was a respected trooper and public servant. 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," said WSP Chief John Batiste. "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."
Gunderson helped investigate the 2017 Amtrak derailment in DuPont and his work also helped reopen roads more quickly after crashes.
"Eric’s work didn’t just save time and money, it reduced the exposure of risk to you, troopers, and responders alike around the country, and across this great state. In short he has saved lives and will continue to save lives with this technology," said Chief Batiste.
The memorial service was happening Monday at Church For All Nations in Tacoma. In addition to Chief Batiste, family and close friends gave eulogies.
"To my SWAT brothers, I love you. Cammy, Blake and Brayden we love you and we are here for you. To Eric, I know you knew it, but I love you brother and I’ll miss you terribly," said Det. Sgt. Steve Reeves, WSP SWAT Team Leader.
"While time can change many things, it will never change the impact he made on me or the love I have for him. Rest easy Eric, I love you," said Andres Soros, Gunderson's godson.
"I will never forget the last words that we said to each other. It was while he was in the hospital. We were talking on video chat and I said I love you, and he said I love you too," said Officer Garrett Gunderson, brother.
The WSP flag is adorned with 31 streamers, one for each of the names of the men and women who have fallen in the line of duty. On Monday, another streamer was added in honor of Gunderson. State Patrol said the streamers represent the spirit of each of the fallen officers and signify that while they may be gone, they will never be forgotten.
Chief Batiste said Detective Gunderson's name and biography will also be added to a permanent memorial inside the WSP headquarters in Olympia.
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