SEATTLE (AP) — A Washington State Patrol trooper who helped develop the agency's use of drones has died after a battle with COVID-19 contracted on duty, the state patrol said Sunday.
Detective Eric Gunderson died Sunday surrounded by his family and friends, the patrol said in a statement. He was 38.
Gunderson, the technology liaison in the patrol’s Criminal Investigation Division and a member of the patrol's SWAT team, frequently traveled around the country to speak about the state patrol's use of drones and contracted COVID-19 on one of those trips, the patrol said.
Gunderson helped investigate the 2017 Amtrak derailment in DuPont and his work also helped reopen roads more quickly after crashes, it said.
Gunderson's death is the first line of duty death for the agency since it marked its 100th anniversary a few weeks ago, Chief John Batiste said.
“How I had hoped our second century of service would be more forgiving. 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,” he said.
Gov. Jay Inslee tweeted his condolences to Gunderson's family, friends and colleagues.
He is survived by his wife Kameron and sons Blake, 13, and Braden, 10.