Texas detention deputy dies after testing positive for COVID-19

Timothy De La Fuente, a Bexar County Sheriff's Office veteran, worked in parts of the jail deemed as "hotspots"


By Emilie Eaton
San Antonio Express-News

SAN ANTONIO — A detention deputy with the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office who died Thursday, days after contracting the coronavirus, was stationed in several parts of the jail deemed “hotspots” by Sheriff Javier Salazar.

Timothy De La Fuente, a 27-year-veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, was tested Tuesday for the highly contagious virus as part of a sweeping effort to screen all detention deputies and inmates in the downtown lockup.

The following day, De La Fuente began to feel ill, officials say. He called his supervisor, who urged him to stay home. On Thursday, as his condition worsened, he decided to seek medical care at a private facility.

As he got ready to leave, he collapsed in the bathroom of his North Side home. His wife rushed to his aid and called 911. He was later pronounced dead.

His body was taken to the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office, where an autopsy will be conducted to determine his exact cause of death, as is customary for cases of sudden death.

“I would just ask the community to continue to pray for Timothy De La Fuente,” Salazar said. “We have several hundred deputies that are hurting right now. We lost a member of our community, possibly to this illness. We are in mourning right now.”

Officials say De La Fuente, 53, had underlying health conditions, some of which he sustained after he was assaulted by a jail inmate one or two years ago.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said it isn’t clear where De La Fuente contracted the virus. He said it’s possible he caught it at the jail, where more than 129 inmates, 40 deputies and 11 staffers have tested positive. Some of them have recovered.

He said De La Fuente’s death underscores how the coronavirus can cause serious complications in people of all ages. No one is immune, he said.

“People think that just people that are older are dying,” Wolff said. “It can strike anybody.”

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©2020 the San Antonio Express-News

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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