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Family of fallen WA state trooper says rumors that he opposed vaccine are false

·2 min read

The family of a Washington State Patrol trooper who died Sept. 26 after contracting the COVID-19 virus issued a statement Friday debunking rumors that Trooper Eric Gunderson opposed vaccination and participated in related activist lawsuits or protests.

The family’s statement also said that Gunderson was unvaccinated, but noted that he contracted the virus last summer when it appeared to be declining, and before Gov. Jay Inslee issued a mandate requiring all state employees to be vaccinated.

“Eric was a young man. At 38, he was in the peak physical condition necessary to perform his duties as a member of the Washington State Patrol S.W.A.T. team,” the statement said, in part. “He thought — we all thought — that Covid was something that happened to someone else. He was not in a high risk group.”

After Gunderson’s death was initially reported, the State Patrol stated that he contracted the virus while providing training for other law enforcement at an International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Orlando, Florida. The family’s statement issued Friday alluded to that trip.

“He contracted the virus while traveling for work this summer, a trip planned before the dangers of the Delta variant were fully understood, when many travel restrictions had been reduced and there was a sense that Covid was in decline,” the statement said. “After he returned from his trip, he became very sick, very quickly. He was hospitalized and died some six weeks later.”

The statement went on to say: “Eric was a loyal member of the Washington State Patrol and took an oath to follow the legal directives of the Governor. We are quite sure he would have followed the vaccine mandate direction had he had the chance. Unfortunately, he did not. It is important for everyone to know, he was not a part of any anti-vaccine or political movement. Some in the media have inaccurately claimed he was a part of anti-vaccine mandate lawsuits, etc. He was not. There has been wide speculation about his perspectives on vaccination.

“To end this painful and continuing line of inquiry, we will now share our family’s private medical information — Eric Gunderson was simply a good man, busy with life, and suddenly sickened by Covid before he could be vaccinated. He died and every member of our young family will miss him every day for the rest of our lives.

“His death is a tragedy. It is not a symbol. It is not a statement. It is not a part of one side’s argument over another side’s argument. It is simply the loss of a fine husband, a wonderful father, and a busy young man to Covid. That is enough drama for our family. Please respect our family’s privacy and do not add to the tragedy of our loss with further questions about Eric’s medical history.”

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