Texas prison chaplain dies from COVID-19

Walterio Rodriguez, 67, was an 11-year TDCJ veteran assigned to the Segovia Unit


By Mark Reagan
The Monitor

EDINBURG, Texas — The Texas Department of Criminal Justice says a 67-year-old chaplain assigned to the Segovia Unit in Edinburg died Thursday from the novel coronavirus.

Walterio Rodriguez, who had 11 years of service with TDCJ, was hospitalized at the McAllen Medical Center on July 20. He last worked in Segovia on July 15.

“The Texas Department of Criminal Justice mourns one of our own who treasured bringing the word of God to those who needed,” Bryan Collier, TDCJ executive director, said in a statement. “Walter made a transition in life to become a chaplain because of his love for others. We now return thoughts and prayers to his loved ones with the admiration and respect of the TDCJ family.”

TDCJ Rehabilitation Division Director Christopher Carter said in a statement that Rodriguez took a huge leap of faith when we went from working as a utility technician to becoming a prison chaplain.

“He used his story to help others changing countless lives,” Carter said, adding that he was well respected and will be deeply missed.

Rodriguez is the second Rio Grande Valley TDCJ employee to die after testing positive for the novel coronavirus.

On July 26, Ruben Martínez, a 48-year-old correctional officer at the Lopez Unit in Edinburg, died from COVID-19.

He tested positive on July 13 and six days later he began having complications from the virus and was admitted into Edinburg Children’s Hospital, TDCJ said.

Juan Garcia, senior warden of the Segovia and Lopez units, said in a statement that Martínez’s two years of service were unwavering.

“Officer Martínez was a family man and always having a positive attitude he was always there to lend a fellow co-worker a hand. Officer Martínez is greatly missed.”

TDCJ said in the statement that 18 employees have died from COVID-19.

Rodriguez’s death is the second novel coronavirus-related death linked to the Segovia Unit in under a week.

On Sunday, Gene Allen Brown, a 66-year-old Harris County man serving a 15-year sentence for a DWI conviction died from COVID-19.

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©2020 The Monitor (McAllen, Texas)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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