One day, two dead deputies – victims of an invisible killer that is stalking the globe.
In the tight-knit world of law enforcement, the deaths of two Riverside County Sheriff’s Department deputies on Thursday, April 2, from complications related to COVID-19, has cut particularly deep.
Terrell Young, 52, was a 15-year veteran of the RCSD.
David Werksman, 51, was a 22-year veteran of the RCSD and a former public safety dispatcher for the Tustin Police Department.
Young, a married father of four, was a deeply religious man whose interest in law enforcement was sparked by a church-sponsored community forum in which he heard an RCSD corporal speak about his career.
Werksman, a married father of three, was a veteran youth soccer coach who, like Young, worked tirelessly to serve the community and make Riverside County a better place.
“As first responders, Deputy Werksman and Deputy Young served on the front lines of an invisible beast,” the Riverside Sheriff’s Association said in a statement Friday, April 3.
“Yet they both demonstrated in this crisis and every day their dedication and sacrifice,” the statement continued. “Their tragic deaths are a stark reminder of why we need the public to stay at home and to take this deadly virus seriously. We need everyone to take the public health warnings as if it’s life or death, because it is. Please, help us help you and stay inside unless absolutely necessary.”
At a news conference Friday, April 3, Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco made a public plea to Riverside County to take the COVID-19 pandemic seriously for the sake of everyone’s safety.
“I do think the media and government officials have done a horrible job of getting this out to the public,” Bianco said. “We are not taking this seriously enough.”
The sheriff added: “I think we all have to be honest with ourselves. The statistics that get thrown out seem unrealistic, but when it comes home… you see it and you start to take it serious.”
Bianco noted that although he did witness a decline in traffic and cars on the street after quarantine and social distancing was implemented, he said he saw everything return to normal after a couple of days.
“I cannot emphasize this enough,” he said. “Stay home. I think we are in for a big awakening to the reality of how serious this is. This virus is something that is here in Riverside, here in Los Angeles.…All of us who are here today…chances are one of us have it.
“I’m hoping that you take it from me: losing two family member….you don’t want to lose your family members. We have to start caring for more people than ourselves. “
Bianco was asked during the news conference how the agency was protecting its deputies. He shared that they recommended for everyone to wear masks, gloves, and to carry hand sanitizer. But even with those precautions, he explained, his deputies’ jobs force them to be in the public and with the public.
“We deal with people who are exposed…it’s just the nature of our job,” Bianco said. “But the only way we are going to stop this is by staying home. Unfortunately, we are out there every day and we can’t stop (doing our jobs). But people need to take this seriously and they won’t until it happens to someone they are close to.”
As of Friday, April 3, COVID-19 — the disease caused by the novel coronavirus –already has claimed more than 6,900 lives in the United States and 58,137 worldwide. Nationally, there are more than 261,438 confirmed cases.
In California, as of Friday, April 3, 250 people have died of COVID-19 and 11,317 novel coronavirus cases have been confirmed.
In Riverside County, COVID-19 has killed 14 people and there have been 493 confirmed cases of people who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Here are brief profiles of Werksman and Young. Both of their families have requested privacy at this very difficult time, as have colleagues at the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
Sheriff Chad Bianco described Werksman, who lived in Corona, as a kind and unbelievably friendly deputy who was a good son, a good friend, and a highly accomplished member of the agency’s Bomb Squad.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones during this difficult time,” the Riverside Sheriff’s Association said in a statement Friday regarding Werksman’s death.
Werksman served the RCSD and the Riverside Sheriff’s Association for 22 years.
“We ask that the community keep Deputy Werksman’s family and colleagues in their prayers during this extremely emotional and challenging time,” the RSA said in a statement Friday.
“It’ hard to imagine that just 24 hours ago, our department was in pain due to the COVID-19 death of Deputy Terrell Young. Our members are heartbroken and hurting.”
Werksman began his career with the RCSD on April 23, 1998, and worked assignments at the Robert Presley Detention Center, Jurupa Valley Station, Hazardous Device Team, Lake Elsinore Station, and was most recently assigned to Sheriff’s Administration.
He was a very accomplished deputy and was an FBI-certified Public Safety Bomb Technician (2007).
Werksman had an advanced IED electronics certification, was a HAZMAT specialist and Radiologic/Nuclear First Responder, and was certified in confined space rescue.
He also was a range master, first aid/CPR instructor and advanced scuba certified, just to name a few of his accomplishments
Werksman attended Chapman University. He graduated in 1991 and was a member of the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity.
He served as a youth soccer coach for AYSO Region 37.
Back in April 2005, when he was serving as a counselor at California Baptist University in Riverside, Young attended a community forum.
The event changed his life.
A corporal at the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department who spoke at the forum played a huge role in Young’s decision to become a deputy, according to Black Voice News.
Young told the news outlet that at the forum, the deputy explained that as an officer, he could serve the community by being a positive role model, minister to those in need, be a protector of people provide for his family, and prepare for a good retirement.
Young was all about making communities safer and better.
For several years he remained very active at his home church, according to Black Voice News.
Young told the news outlet in 2006 he planned to aggressively recruit other minorities to the Riverside Sheriff’s Department because it has been a blessing to him and his family.
“My wife and children are totally excited and I could not have successfully completed the academy without their support,” Young said. “My wife Marie was there for me when I came home mentally, physically and spiritually beat from the rigorous training at the academy.”
Young’s assignments at the RCSD included the Larry Smith Correctional Facility, Perris Station, Court Services, Southwest Station, and the Cois Byrd Detention Center.
Prior to becoming a deputy in 2005 at age 38, Young worked as an enrollment counselor at California Baptist University in Riverside, a job he started in 2003, according to his LinkedIn page.
Prior to that, Young worked as an enrollment counselor at National University in Orange County.
His jobs before that included admissions counselor at the University of Phoenix in Orange County and as an investment advisor at Paine Webber Investments in Orange County.
Bianco said at a news conference he believed that Young may have contracted the novel coronavirus from an inmate whom he had escorted to the Riverside University Health System in mid-March.
“(Young’s death) is a painful loss for our association and the law enforcement community,” RSA President Bill Young said in a statement. “We extend our prayers and deepest condolences to Deputy Young’s family, friends, co-workers during these extraordinary times.”