RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif. – With a somber procession, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department is mourning the passing of two front-liners due to COVID-19.
Deputy Terrell Young died at 52 years old on April 2. He is believed to have contracted the virus due to a recent jail inmate interaction.
“Terrell was always on time, very well-liked by his peers and supervisors. And always willing to lend a hand. He was compassionate in dealing with both the public and the inmates. He was always smiling,” said Riverside County Sheriff, Chad Bianco.
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Deputy David Werksman, who was 51 years old, also passed on April 2. It is believed that he may have contracted the virus while recently making funeral arrangements for his mother.
“Deputy Werksman was known by all of us who worked with him for his generosity, his kindness, and willingness to help anyone - whether it was work related or not,” Sheriff Bianco said of Werksman’s legacy.
The two honored deputies did not interact with each other.
Former Lieutenant Perri Feinstein Somody says, with all the risks deputies face, she would never expect one to pass away from a virus.
“Working in law enforcement, when you get a call for service, you can plan as you’re going to that call, your scenario, how you’re going to handle it, what you’re going to do, how you’re going to proceed. With the coronavirus, you can’t see it. You don’t know that it’s there,” she explained.
At the Cois Byrd Detention Center, where Deputy Young was last assigned, there
is concern that the virus may be spreading.
“A correctional facility is an enclosed environment and very controlled. Think of it as an airplane, with a lot of people. While everyone there is healthy, you’re all breathing the same air, you’re all in the same environment. And you’re basically stuck with each other in the period of time while you’re on the plane,” Somody said as she reflected on her time while working with a correctional facility.
She noted ventilation issues at detention centers as a likely factor that could increase the risk of possible spread.
Riverside County Sheriff Bianco says at least 26 employees have been infected with the virus. But assured the community they are taking every precautionary measure possible.
“I am sure that the sheriff’s department, and Sheriff Bianco, are doing everything they can to control this outbreak and to protect its deputies and all of its personnel from contracting this horrible virus,” Somody said.
“Our hearts and our prayers go out to Deputy Werksman’s and Deputy Young’s family,” Sheriff Bianco said.
Until the coronavirus is conquered, front-liners will continue to fight an invisible enemy.