A 23-year veteran of the Lauderhill Police Department died Sunday of complications related to COVID-19.
Officer Corey Pendergrass, 51, of Lauderhill, died at Plantation General Hospital. No further information was available about his death.
“He was one of the great ones. He was one of the most humble officers on the planet and was loved by everyone. It’s taken a huge toll on the entire department, including the chief,” said spokesman Lt. Michael Santiago.
Pendergrass was part of a new forensic crime unit in 2014 that used new technology to solve crimes, contributing to a substantial increase in crimes being solved.
“It is with a heavy heart that the Lauderhill Police Department announce the passing of our Brother, Officer Corey Pendergrass, who died this morning of complications related to COVID-19. Corey has honorably served with us since 1997. We will miss you tremendously,” said a tweet from the police department.
Pendergrass was looking forward to seeing his son graduate from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University later this year, family members said. Corey Jr., 21, plans to follow in his father’s footsteps to become a police officer after college, his sister said.
“My dad was a very loving, caring person. He was very family-oriented,” said daughter Kourtney Pendergrass, 28. “I know he loved being a cop. He really loved being a police officer. That was something he always wanted to do.”
Pendergrass was an avid sports fan and was close with his brother Bobby and grandmother Mosey Mae Black, who he loved deeply, his daughter said. Pendergrass remained close with his ex-wife Kimberly after he married his wife Denise.
“Today I lost my dad to COVID-19. I’d like to believe that the wave of PEACE and HAPPINESS that overcame me yesterday and the need to spread LOVE all throughout the day was him,” Kourtney Pendergrass said on social media. “I believe it was him telling me that true HAPPINESS comes from within, stay STRONG for my mother and brother, and continue pouring LOVE into them both... preparing me for today. I’m fully equipped to take on this lifelong mission. You fought a hard fight and I know you gave it your all. Thank you for your role in my life and may you rest in eternal peace.”
Pendergrass is the latest first responder to die of coronavirus complications. Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jose Diaz Ayala, 38, and Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Shannon Bennett, 39, died in early April of the virus.
Don DiPetrillo, the Seminole Tribe of Florida fire chief, was admitted to the hospital March 10 after testing positive for the disease and died April 30 at 70 years old. And Broward Sheriff’s Office dispatcher Nikima Thompson died of coronavirus at 41.
Counseling services are being offered for other Lauderhill Police officers and staff, Santiago said.
Other local police departments tweeted their condolences with the Wilton Manors Police Department tweeting, “Rest In Peace Ofc. Pendergrass ... thank you for your service and dedication to our great law enforcement profession. #wmpd411 extends our condolences and support to the Lauderhill PD family during this most difficult time.”
The South Florida chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives tweeted: “NOBLE South Florida extends our deepest condolences and prayers to the family and friends of Officer Corey Pendergrass and his Lauderhill Police family. May he rest in eternal peace.”
Pendergrass’s death also highlights how the coronavirus disproportionately impacts the Black community and other communities of color. A review of coronavirus deaths by age and race demographics found that Black South Floridians made up 20 out of 29 coronavirus deaths among those under the age of 45 in Broward County, making up 70% of those deaths despite being only 35% of the population.
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