Memorial held for trooper who died of COVID-19 after contracting it on the job

Trooper Detective Eric T. Gunderson served more than 16 years with the State Patrol.

TACOMA, Wash. — A memorial service was held Monday for a Washington State Patrol trooper who died from COVID-19.

Trooper Detective Eric T. Gunderson was honored at Church For All Nations in Tacoma at 1 p.m.

The State Patrol said the 38-year-old died last Sunday after contracting COVID-19 on the job.

Gunderson graduated from Franklin Pierce High School in Tacoma, and attended Pacific Lutheran University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Math-Economics/Finance in May of 2005.

According to the State Patrol, Gunderson was an early adopter and enthusiast of unmanned aerial technology and his work with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) was chronicled in media stories across the nation.

WSP described his work as pioneering and said it allowed Washington to shorten road closures during crash investigations. The department noted that his work following the 2017 Amtrak train derailment in DuPont gained wide acclaim for its “precision and value.”

“Eric traveled around the country representing the WSP as the premiere agency in the world for UAV usage. He contracted COVID-19 while providing training for other officers across the nation at an International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) conference in Orlando, Florida,” a news release from the Washington State Patrol said.

He is survived by his wife and two sons.

“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,” WSP Chief John R. Batiste said. “We will show our fallen hero the respect and honors his service to our state and agency deserves. We grieve the loss of this fine officer, this good husband and father, and our dear friend.”

Gunderson served more than 16 years with the State Patrol. His death is listed as the 32nd line of duty death in the department’s 100-year history.