West Side WSP trooper dies after contracting COVID-19 while traveling

<p><p>A 38-year-old Washington State Patrol trooper died after contracting COVID-19 while traveling for work, the state agency announced Sunday.</p></p><p><p>Trooper Detective Eric Gunderson died early Sunday “after a courageous battle with (COVID-19) contracted while in service to the state of Washington,” the WSP announced in a news release. Gunderson was commissioned in April 2008 and was serving in District 1 of the agency, which covers Pierce and Thurston counties.</p></p><p><p>“We will show our fallen hero the respect and honors his service to our state and agency deserves,” WSP Chief John R. Baptiste said in a statement. “For now, we will simply hold one another close as we grieve the loss of our great friend.”</p></p><p><p>Gunderson was praised for his work using unmanned aerial vehicles to aid crash investigations, and for his work following the 2017 Amtrak train derailment in DuPont. He leaves behind a wife and two children.</p></p><p><p>The agency says Gunderson contracted the virus while on a trip on behalf of the WSP discussing the agency’s use of UAV technology.</p></p><p><p>He is the 32nd member of the 100-year-old agency to die in the line of duty.</p></p><p><p>A spokesman for the agency said Sunday he did not know whether Gunderson had been vaccinated against the virus. The agency <a href=”https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2021/sep/17/local-law-enforcement-not-requiring-or-tracking-em” target=”_blank”>is requiring its employees receive the vaccine or seek an exemption</a> under Gov. Jay Inslee’s orders. About half of the agency had been vaccinated as of Sept. 6.</p></p><p><p>Services are pending.</p></p>