Calif. correctional officer dies from COVID-19

Danny Mendoza, 53, worked at the California Rehabilitation Center in Riverside County


By Wes Venteicher
The Sacramento Bee

RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif. — California correctional officer Danny Mendoza died Saturday after testing positive for the coronavirus, according to a Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation news release.

Mendoza, 53, worked at the California Rehabilitation Center in Riverside County, according to the release.

CDRC staff were joined by public safety employees from Corona Police Department, California Highway Patrol, Corona Fire Department, Riverside County Fire Department, and Riverside County Coroner’s Office to honor Officer Mendoza with a vehicle procession on May 30. (Photo/CDCR Facebook)
CDRC staff were joined by public safety employees from Corona Police Department, California Highway Patrol, Corona Fire Department, Riverside County Fire Department, and Riverside County Coroner’s Office to honor Officer Mendoza with a vehicle procession on May 30. (Photo/CDCR Facebook)

His death was the first reported by the corrections department among employees who have tested positive.

“I am deeply saddened by this dedicated officer’s passing,” CDCR Secretary Ralph Diaz said in the statement. “My prayers are with the Mendoza family during this challenging time, and I know that everyone at CDCR sends their condolences and support.”

Positive tests have been reported at 10 of the state’s 34 prisons, according to the corrections department’s patient tracker.

As of Friday, 309 corrections employees had tested positive, according to the most recent department data.

More than 2,000 inmates have tested positive, according to the department. Nine inmates have died, all of them at the California Institute for Men in San Bernardino County.

Mendoza worked in state prisons for 24 years, most of them at Calipatria State Prison. He transferred to the Riverside prison in 2018, according to the release.

“I am heartbroken by the loss of one of our CRC family members,” Cynthia Tampkins, warden of the Riverside prison, said in the release. “Officer Mendoza was loved and respected by his peers, he will be greatly missed.”

The Riverside County Coroner’s Office has not yet issued an exact cause of death, the release states.

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©2020 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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