Washington Trooper Dies Unexpectedly Due to Illness - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Washington Trooper Dies Unexpectedly Due to Illness

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YAKIMA, WA. -- The law enforcement community is in mourning Tuesday after losing one of their own. 


Trooper Clayton Gocha died unexpectedly Monday morning after coming down with pneumonia. Trooper Gocha was 48-years-old and leaves behind a loving family. 


The state patrol says they come to expect tragedy in their line of work, but something like this came as a complete shock. 


Trooper Clayton Gocha, know by his friends as CJ, was a 16-year veteran of the Washington State Patrol. Over the weekend, he started feeling ill. He was taken to Memorial Hospital for treatment and that is where he passed away Monday morning. 


"It happened very fast, CJ worked the road here in the Yakima area on Friday, so we had no reason to believe he wouldn't be back to work on Monday," Lieutenant Tom Foster said. 


It's unclear exactly what led to the death of Trooper Gocha, who was also a 13-year veteran of the Marines. Lieutenant Foster told us he was battling what he calls a walking pneumonia. But no one at the state patrol expected this. 


"He was a great guy," Lt. Foster said. "It's very minimal to say that everybody liked him. He was just a hard worker. One of our finest troopers."


For Lieutenant Foster, the hardest part is thinking about the family, his wife, 4 kids and 2 grandchildren, that he left behind. 


"It can't be more difficult than it is on CJ's family," Lt. Foster said. "They were a very close family, they've cared very much for each other. I've known his wife for several years. She was an office assistant here."


Lieutenant Foster ended our conversation by reading a note written by Trooper Gocha's family. 


"The family of Trooper Clayton Gocha would like to express our appreciate to the Washington State Patrol and the Yakima Police Department. Throughout his time he was a loving husband, an amazing father to four children and a fun loving loving granddad to three little ones. His family and friends love him and continue to honor his legacy of compassion and no frills dedication to family and community."


Lieutenant Foster told us a funeral service has been planned for Saturday afternoon.


 Here is the note written by Trooper Gocha's family. 


"The family of Trooper Clayton Gocha would like to express our appreciation to the Washington State Patrol and the Yakima Police Department. Their willingness to support and honor Clayton epitomizes the love and respect he has earned. Clayton served this county as a United States Marine for 13 years before protecting this state as a trooper for 17-years. Throughout this time, he was a loving husband, an amazing father to four children and a fun-loving grandpa to three little ones. Family was the most important thing in his life which spread to his "blue" family as well. He gained a new family in the the patrol. But he especially loved his brothers and sisters in Detachment 2 (of the Washington State Patrol). He enjoyed golfing, watching the U.K. version of Top Gear and traveling. His family and friends love him and will continue to honor his legacy of compassion and no frills  dedication to family and community." 



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