Pelham Police remember officer who died after battling COVID-19
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The city of Pelham shared emotional video Tuesday of Officer Juan Gomez’s body arriving at the funeral home with officers saluting him on both sides.
Officers with the department now wear covered badges in Gomez’s honor.
“We do everything we can to remind ourselves of the cost of losing our brother and the cost of this job,” said Pelham Police Chief Pat Cheatwood.
For at least the last year and a half, the cost to protect and serve has come with the risk of contracting COVID-19.
“It’s a constant battle to protect our people as much as we can,” said Cheatwood.
Cheatwood Confirmed Gomez, who was an 11 year veteran with the department, was exposed to COVID-19 while on duty. Gomez died after battling the disease in the hospital.
Data from the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund shows in 2020 an estimated 295 officers died. Of those, 182 were COVID-related deaths.
“I had COVID-19 and spent time in the hospital,” said Pelham Police Detective Isaac Cruz.
Cruz and Gomez were close friends in the department, and Cruz spent time comforting his friends about his battle and sharing bibles verses hoping he’d make it through, too.
“He told me that he loved me and his kids and his family,” said Cruz.
Both Cheatwood and Cruz described Gomez as a man who made so many smile. He worked with the bike patrol unit to help with community engagement and participated in some of the Special Olympic runs. He also served in the Army for eight years.
His funeral service is set for Wednesday.
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