Stafford Creek Correctional Officer dies from COVID-19

The Washington State Department of Corrections announced on Friday evening that they were notified that Correctional Officer Gabriel Forrest, 42, passed away on Thursday, June 17, 2021 from complications of COVID-19.

This is the second reported death of a Stafford Creek employee. 122 staff have been reported as having COVID-19, and the passing of Forrest follows the previously announced death of 62-year-old Correctional Officer David Christensen, although the DOC lists only a single death among employees as of the writing of this story.

Since the start of the pandemic, 1,206 inmates have been reported as contracting COVID-19, including 5 deaths.

“Words do not seem adequate to express our sorrow at the loss of Correctional Officer Gabriel Forrest. Our hearts and prayers go to Gabe’s family for their loss and sacrifice,” said Secretary Cheryl Strange. “We grieve their loss, as does the extended family of the Stafford Creek Corrections Center.”

 According to DOC, Forrest started his career as a Correctional Officer at Stafford Creek on August 1, 2002, was regarded as outstanding by colleagues and leadership, and was honored in 2018 with the Department of Corrections Agency Officer of the Year award representing Stafford Creek Corrections Center.  

“Gabe was a very kind and caring person–I have never heard anyone say a bad thing about him.” said Ron Haynes, Superintendent at Stafford Creek Corrections Center. “He was one of the most humble people I have known, and he will be missed.” 

Consistent with the Health Emergency Labor Standards Act (HELSA), the Department is proceeding on the presumption that his death was work-related.

The Department will review Officer Forrest’s death as a possible line of duty death.

For that review, the Department will consult with the following entities: Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program, National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial-Behind the Badge Foundation and the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries.