PORT ORANGE, Fla. – The Port Orange Police Department announced the passing of one of its officers due to complications from COVID-19.
According to a Facebook post from the department, Officer Justin White, 39, died Thursday morning after a battle with the virus.
White was a veteran of the Port Orange Police Department and a dedicated father and husband. He is survived by his wife and four children.
“We are grateful for his service, dedication and sacrifice to our agency and this community,” the Port Orange PD post read.
During his 15 years with the department White served the community as a K-9 handler and instructor, crime suppression team member and union president for the Volusia County Deputy Association, according to interim Port Orange police Chief Bill Proctor.
“I’ve directly supervised him on the road and he was very active and he supported the community,” Proctor said.
According to a GoFundMe fundraiser started for White’s family, the officer was diagnosed with the virus two weeks ago and was hospitalized. Last week, he was moved to the ICU and placed on a ventilator, according to the fundraiser.
Proctor said in late July when White began seeing COVID-19 symptoms he self-quarantined at home before he was hospitalized. No one else at the department had symptoms. The chief did not know if White had received the COVID-19 vaccine yet when he became ill.
White was also a youth sports coach for the city of Port Orange and operated a dog-training business.
Proctor said he hopes the community will honor White’s memory and remember his contributions to the city.
“They need to remember him as a husband and a father; as a dedicated police officer; as one that gave selflessly during his career-working holidays, nights, serving the underserved,” Proctor said.
Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood reacted to White’s passing on social media.
“RIP Officer Justin White, sincere condolences to his loving family & the entire POPD from all of us at @VolusiaSheriff. A husband, father of 4, coach, and 15-year POPD veteran, one of many dedicated public servants continuing to work on the front lines through this pandemic,” Chitwood wrote on Twitter.
White is the third first-responder to die from COVID in Central Florida this week. On Wednesday, the Melbourne Fire Department announced Driver Engineer Scott Allender died after a month-long battle with the disease. Orange County Deputy Craig Seijos also died of COVID-19 on Thursday, according to the sheriff’s office.
According to Chitwood, more than 300 law enforcement officers have died from COVID-19-related illnesses during the pandemic.
Across Central Florida, hospitals are experiencing new record-setting coronavirus patient numbers driven by the delta variant. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services data, there are 12,888 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Florida as of Thursday afternoon.