COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — An El Paso County sheriff’s deputy has died of coronavirus, Sheriff Bill Elder said Thursday.
Deputy Jeff Hopkins, 41, died of the virus on Wednesday, he is the youngest person to die of COVID-19 in Colorado.
He is survived by his wife, Wendy, who is expecting the couple’s first child in August.
“He called me in February and told me they were expecting,” Hopkins’ friend Jeff Zaiger said. “He was just going to be a great dad.”
Hopkins had been with the Sheriff’s Office since 2001. Most recently, he worked as an intake and release deputy in the jail. Elder said about 40 deputies and 25 to 30 civilian employees work in the same area. Elder said Hopkins has taken some days off in the past few weeks, which limited some of the exposure.
“He was an exceptional employee and always committed to the vision and mission of the Sheriff’s Office and will be missed,” Elder said.
The El Paso County Health Department is working to determine how Hopkins may have been exposed to the virus, as well as who else he may have come into contact with.
Dr. Robin Johnson, El Paso County medical director, said they were not aware of any underlying health conditions that may have contributed to Hopkins’ death. Johnson said he experienced symptoms of the virus for seven to 10 days.
Elder said a total of eight El Paso County deputies have tested positive for the virus.
“My condolences go out to Deputy Hopkins’ family. Deputy Hopkins spent his life serving his community and working to make our state a better place. This is an incredibly difficult time for our state, and even more so for those who have lost a loved one. Each tragic death from Coronavirus is a stark reminder of why we need to stay at home. We can’t thank our first responders and law enforcement enough for serving on the front lines, demonstrating in this crisis and every day their dedication and sacrifice.”Governor Jared Polis
His death reminding us to treasure those we love most.
“We’re living through this and everyone…reach out to loved one and friends that’s what life is all about,” Zaiger.
Zaiger and Hopkins have known each other since 2003, the dynamic duo was known for playing poker and had nicknames for one another.
“We had a goofy poker crew, he was known as ‘Sheriff of Bettingham’ and I was known as ‘Poker Pooh’,” Zaiger
A GoFundMe has been set up to help the Hopkins’ family, no word yet on future memorial services. Zaiger is planning on a future poker game in honor of Hopkins.