3rd NJ correctional police officer dies from COVID-19

Senior Correctional Police Officer Maria Gibbs, a married mother of two who was in her 40s, died of kidney failure


By Anthony G. Attrino
NJ Advance Media Group

BURLINGTON COUNTY, N.J. — A third corrections officer who worked in a prison or jail in New Jersey has died from coronavirus, authorities said Thursday.

Senior Correctional Police Officer Maria Gibbs, a married mother of two who was in her 40s, died of kidney failure related to COVID-19 on Tuesday afternoon, according William Sullivan, president of PBA Local 105.

Maria Gibbs was a 16-year veteran who worked at the state’s Central Reception and Assignment Facility in Trenton. (Photo/NJDOC)
Maria Gibbs was a 16-year veteran who worked at the state’s Central Reception and Assignment Facility in Trenton. (Photo/NJDOC)

“She had been doing well for awhile, but then it took a turn for the worse and she was on a ventilator,” Sullivan said. “Her body gave out from all the treatments.”

Gibbs’ husband has also been diagnosed with COVID-19 but so far has not developed symptoms, Sullivan said.

Sullivan said that Gibbs went to work everyday and knew the dangers of contracted the infection.

“She sacrificed herself for her job,” he said.

Gibbs’ profile photo on Facebook states: “I can’t stay home. I’m a correctional officer.”

Gibbs, a Burlington County resident, was a 16-year veteran who worked at the state’s Central Reception and Assignment Facility in Trenton. Before that, she worked at Northern State Prison in Newark.

Sullivan, who left wreathes Thursday at Gibbs’ home and at the prison where she worked, said services are planned for April 29.

A procession will line up in the parking lot of Willingboro High School, 20 South JFK Way, and will drive by the funeral home about 1 p.m., when family services are expected to conclude, Sullivan said.

Earlier this month, Correctional Police Officer Nelson Perdomo, 44, of Middlesex County, died in a hospital of complications from COVID-19. Perdomo worked at East Jersey State Prison in Rahway.

Bernard Waddell Sr., 56, who worked corrections at the Hudson County jail, died after contracting the coronavirus, officials said.

The New Jersey Department of Corrections reports that 427 workers in state prison have been diagnosed with COVID-19, including 27 at Central Reception, where Gibbs worked.

In East Jersey State Prison, where Perdomo worked, 53 workers have tested positive for COVID-19, and 15 inmates have tested positive. Six of the inmates have died, according to the state.

In all, 16 state prison inmates have so far died from coronavirus and nine at residential community release programs have tested positive, according to the state.

Sullivan said PBA members are demanding widespread and free testing of both workers and inmates at all of New Jersey’s prisons, whether they are symptomatic or not.

Currently, state employees who are not symptomatic are paying $52 each for coronavirus testing, Sullivan said.

“We’re giving it to each other,” Sullivan said of the virus. “Officers walk along a 3 or 4-foot wide corridor up and down a tier with 90 inmates in cells with open bars breathing on them and each other.”

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©2020 NJ Advance Media Group, Edison, N.J.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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