Washington State Trooper dies of COVID

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A Washington State Patrol (WSP) Trooper who served for over a decade died of COVID-19 early Sunday.

“With heavy hearts, fond memories, and enduring regard, the Washington State Patrol confirms the loss of Trooper Detective Eric Gunderson,” WSP said.

Gunderson, 38, died early Sunday morning after battling COVID, which he contracted while in service. He had served WSP for nearly 16 years.

WSP said he died peacefully surrounded by family, friends and love. He is survived by his wife Kameron (Kami) and his two sons. He is the 32nd member to die in the line of duty in the agency’s 100 years of service.

“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 Chief John R. 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 started his career as a trooper in 2005, and was commissioned in 2008.

He was the Technology Liaison in the Criminal Investigation Division (CID), in District 1. In his role, WSP said he helped all CID detectives, Field Operations Bureau (FOB) Collision Technical Specialist (CTS), Collision Reconstruction Troopers, and the Crime Lab Division (CLD) Crime Scene Response Team (CSRT) with technology questions, training and troubleshooting. He was also a member of the WSP SWAT team.

WSP said he was well regarded for his understanding and embrace of law enforcement technology.

An early adopter and enthusiast of unmanned aerial technology, WSP said his work with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has been chronicled in media stories across the country.

WSP said his pioneering work has shortened the time of road closures during collision investigations. Also, his work after an Amtrak passenger train derailed in DuPont in 2017 gained wide acclaim and appreciation for precision and value.

Gunderson traveled around the country representing WSP for UAV usage. He contracted COVID while on one of those trips.

Memorial service planning will be underway following the guidance and wishes of his family and will be announced later.

“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.”

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