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COVID-19 claims the life of another Texas prison correctional officer

Correctional Officer IV Jackson Pongay, 56, died Sunday at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston. (TDCJ photo)
Correctional Officer IV Jackson Pongay, 56, died Sunday at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston. (TDCJ photo)(KWTX)
Published: Jul. 21, 2020 at 2:09 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Texas (KWTX) - Correctional Officer IV Jackson Pongay, 56, who was diagnosed with the new coronavirus, died Sunday at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston where he’d been hospitalized since July 5, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said.

"The loss of someone selflessly serving Texas is hard to fathom," said TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier.

"The Texas Department of Criminal Justice family in gray is strong and so is the power of our thoughts and prayers which are with Officer Pongay's family and friends. He is remembered always."

Pongay, who worked for the prison system for more than four years, last worked on June 25 at the Lychner State Jail in Humble.

"Officer Pongay was a kindhearted soul with a big personality that would go out of his way to assist fellow employees," said Tanya Wilson Assistant Warden at the Pam Lychner State Jail.

"He was never seen at work with a frown on his face, and he did not know a stranger. Jackson loved cooking and his specialty was food from his native West Liberia which he would share with everyone. He is missed."

The TDCJ says 2,355 of its employees have tested positive for the virus and 1,215 of them have recovered.

A total of 13,408 inmates have also tested positive, 9,562 of them have recovered and at least 94 have died.

No Central Texas units were locked down Tuesday, but 68 inmates were on medical restriction at the William R. Boyd Unit in Teague; five employees had active cases at the Christina Melton Crain Unit in Gatesville; one inmate and six employees had active cases at the Alfred D. Hughes Unit in Gatesville, where 731 inmates were on medical restriction and 33 were isolated; five employees had active cases at the Mountain View Unit in Gatesville, where 103 inmates were on medical restriction; one inmate and five employees had active cases at the Dr. Lane Murray Unit in Gatesville, where 50 inmates were on medical restriction and one was medically isolated, and two employees had active cases at the Linda Woodman State Jail in Gatesville, where 511 inmates were on medical restriction and two were medically isolated.

Employee deaths

Correctional Officer V Jerry Esparza, a 25-year TDCJ veteran, died on July 15 at Memorial Herman Sugarland Hospital after testing positive for COVID-19. He was assigned to the Jester III Unit in Richmond.

Joe Lange, 56, who most recently worked as an analyst at the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, died July 1. Texas Department of Criminal Justice correctional officer Kenneth Harbin, 60 was admitted on June 28 to Covenant Hospital in Lubbock after testing positive for the virus and died on the morning of July 4. Correctional Officer V Thomas Ogunbire, 54, a 10-year TDCJ veteran, died on June 11 at Baylor Hospital in Dallas, nearly two months after calling in sick to the Hutchins State Jail in Dallas.

Robert Armstrong, who served as director of nursing and facility health administrator at the Sanchez Unit and as a nurse practitioner since 2013 died on June 16.

Maria Mendez, 59, a correction officer at the Wynne Unit, died on May 9 after she was hospitalized on April 12. She served the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for nearly 11 years.

Jesse Bolton, 62, a correctional officer at the Eastham Unit, died on May 8 after falling ill on May 6. He was a 12-year TDCJ veteran.

TDCJ employee James Coleman, 53, a 20-year-TDCJ veteran who worked at the Middleton Unit Abilene tested positive for COVID-19 after falling ill at home and died on April 28 at an Abilene hospital.

Coy D. Coffman, Jr., 65, a corrections officer at the Teford Unit in New Boston, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 on April 19, died on April 26. Coffman was a nine-year TDCJ veteran. Longtime Texas Department of Criminal Justice employee

Akbar Shabazz, died on April 23 after a nearly three-week battle with the new coronavirus. Shabazz, 70, who was the TDCJ's regional area Muslim chaplain, fell ill on April 3. He died early on April 23 at Methodist Hospital in the Woodlands. He started work as a volunteer and became an employee of the agency in September 1977.

Correctional Officer Jonathon Keith Goodman, 52, an 11-year Texas Department of Criminal Justice veteran, died on April 21 at a hospital in Amarillo after he was removed from life support following a stroke on April 17. He tested positive for COVID-19 on April 11 and the virus apparently contributed to his death, prison officials said.

Kelvin Wilcher, 49, a correctional officer at the Estelle Unit in Huntsville, died on April 6 after testing positive for the virus.

Inmate deaths

Gilbert Gomez, 73, who was serving a 25-year sentence out of Harris County at the Duncan Unit in Diboll died on June 29 at Hospital Galveston to which he was taken on June 18.

Jose Faide Morones, 70, who was serving a 25-year sentence out of Harris County at the Duncan Unit in Diboll died on June 29 at hospital Galveston to which he was taken on June 9.

Alvin Murray, 71, who was serving a 20-year sentence out of Houston County, died on June 28 at a hospital to which was taken on June 12 from the Duncan Unit in Diboll.

Raynaldo Perez, 72, who was serving a 30-year sentence out of Victoria County, died on June 28 at a Port Arthur Hospital to which he was taken the same day from the Stiles Unit in Beaumont.

Phillip Daniel Tompkins, 68, who was serving a life sentence out of Harris County at the Jester III Unit in Richmond, died on June 28 at a Richmond Hospital to which he was transferred on June 19.

Paul Alexander Casiano, who was serving a six-year sentence out of Kendall County, died on June 27 at Hospital Galveston to which he was transferred on June 23 from the Dominguez Unit in San Antonio.

Baldemar Deleon, Jr., 70, who was serving a 50-year sentence out of Collin County, died on June 25 at a Jacksonville Hospital to which he was transferred on June 5 from the Duncan Unit in Diboll.

Alvin Ray Spencer, 65, who was serving a 35-year sentence out of Eastland County, died on June 25 at West Texas Hospital in Lubbock to which he was transferred on May 11 from the Smith Unit in Lamesa.

James Lee Price, 71, who was serving a seven-year sentence out of Tarrant County, died on June 24 at Hospital Galveston to which he was transferred on June 6 from the Duncan Unit in Diboll.

Daniel Rene Martinez, 61, who was serving a 65-year sentence out of Harris County, died June 21 at Hospital Galveston. He was taken to a local hospital from the Michael Unit in Tennessee Colony on May 22 and was transferred to Galveston on June 4.

Tommy Russ Shoefstall, 62, who was serving a 60-year sentence out of Clay County at the Pack Unit in Navasota, died on June 21 at Hospital Galveston, to which he was transferred on June 13.

Daniel Perez Martinez, 71, who was serving a 25-year sentence out of Harris County at the Duncan Unit in Diboll, died on June 16 at a local hospital after testing positive for the virus on June 8.

James Brewer, 49, who was serving a 30-year sentence out of Dallas County at the Jester III Unit in Richmond, died on June 16.

Lewis Anderson, 55, who was serving a 40-year sentence out of Tarrant County at the Pack Unit in Navasota, died on June 16 at a local hospital to which he was admitted on June 7.

Jesus Rodriguez, 68, who was serving an eight-year sentence out of Bell County at the Pack Unit in Navasota, died on June 18 at Hospital Galveston to which he was transferred on May 30.

Stephen Allan Fox, 62, who was serving a 99-year sentence at the Pack Unit in Navasota out of Palo Pinto County, died on June 14 at a Bryan hospital to which he was transported on May 29.

Frankie Randall, 63, who was serving a 25-year sentence out of Dallas County at the Duncan Unit Diboll, died on June 15 at Hospital Galveston to which he was transferred on June 10.

David Turner, 67, who was serving a 25-year sentence out of Comal County at the Duncan Unit in Diboll, died on June 16 at Hospital Galveston to which he was transferred on June 14.

James Robert Sampley, 59, who was serving a 15-year sentence out of Eastland County at the Pack Unit in Navasota, died on June 19 at Hospital Galveston to which he was transferred on May 25.

Jose Guzman, 61, died on May 28 at a hospital to which he was transferred on May 19 from the Michael Unit in Tennessee Colony where he was serving a 20-year sentence out of Hidalgo County.

Edward Hawkins, Jr., 63, died on June 11 at Hospital Galveston to which he was transferred on May 27 from the Terrell Unit in Rosharon where he was serving a 45-year sentence out of Galveston County.

Terry Lee Walls, 67, died on June 14 at Hospital Galveston to which he was transferred on June 5 from the Jester III unit in Richmond where he was serving a 25-year sentence out of Harris County.

Richard Calvin Gipson, 52, died on May 26 at Hospital Galveston to which he was transferred on May 8 from the Michael Unit in Tennessee Colony where he was serving a life sentence out of Smith County.

Antonio Fernandez Ayala, 79, died on June 4 at Hospital Galveston to which he was transferred on June 1 from the Duncan Unit in Diboll where he was serving a 15-year sentence out of Johnson County.

Stephen Lewis Smith, 70, died on June 4 at a hospital to which he was transferred on June 3 from the Michael Unit in Tennessee Colony where he was serving a life sentence out of Denton County.

James Gibson, 65, died on June 13 at Hospital Galveston to which he was transferred on May 28 from the Pack Unit in Navasota where he was serving a 35-year sentence out of Bexar County.

Henry Daniel Farr, 71, died June 18 at the Duncan Unit in Diboll where he was serving a 20-year sentence out of Harris County.

Jimmy Ray Malone, 76, died on June 15 at Hospital Galveston to which he was transferred on June 14 from a local hospital after falling ill at the Pack Unit in Navasota where he was serving a seven year sentence out of Collin County.

Gerald Earl Gilbert, 69, died on June 15 at Hospital Galveston to which he was transferred on June 10 from a local hospital after falling ill at the Duncan Unit in Diboll where he was serving a 20-year sentence out of Harris County.

James Allen Smith, 73, died on June 11 at a hospital to which he was transferred from the Estelle Unit in Huntsville where he was serving a nine-month sentence out of Bastrop County.

Earnest Jones, Jr., 62, died on June 12 at a Bryan hospital to which he was transferred on June 11 from the Pack Unit in Navasota where he was serving a 12-year sentence out of Houston County.

Nicolas Andres Sanchez, 28, died on June 2 at a hospital to which he was transferred on May 20 from the Jester III unit in Richmond where he was serving a three-year sentence out of Dallas County.

Michael Lynn Sprague, 72, died June 4 at a local hospital to which he was transferred on May 25 from the Pack Unit in Navasota where he was serving a 30-year sentence out of Dallas County.

Roy Lee Bosier, 59, died on June 6 at Hospital Galveston, to which he was transferred on May 14 from the Estelle Unit in Huntsville where he was serving a 99-year sentence out of Harris County.

David Erasmo Garcia, 83, died on June 7 at Hospital Galveston to which he was transferred on June 2 from the Duncan Unit in Diboll where he was serving a 30-year sentence for murder out of Dimmit County.

Florencio Zarate Salas, 62, died on June 12 at Hospital Galveston to which he was transferred on June 10 from the Duncan Unit in Diboll where he was serving a 15-year sentence out of Hidalgo County.

Isidro Hernandez, 70, died on June 5 at Hospital Galveston to which he was transferred on May 28 from the Pack Unit in Navasota where he was serving a 50-year sentence out of Bell County.

Charles Hart, 71, died on June 6 at Hospital Galveston to which he was transferred on June 2 from the Pack Unit in Navasota where he was serving a life sentence out of Dallas County.

George Bond, 79, died on June 9 at Hospital Galveston to which he was transferred from the Duncan Unit in Diboll where he was serving a 15-year sentence out of Titus County.

Cedric Dewayne Lacy, 65, died on May 28 at Hospital Galveston to which he was transferred on May 12 from the Pack Unit where he was serving a 45-year sentence out of Dallas County.

David Brooks, 65, died on May 28 at Hospital Galveston to which he was transferred on May 12 from the Polunksky Unit in Livingston, where he was serving a life sentence out of Harris County.

Jose Perez, 70, died on May 30 after he was transferred to Hospital Galveston from the Wynne Unit in Huntsville where he was serving a 90-year sentence out of El Paso County.

Joe Channel, 62, died on June 2 at Hospital Galveston to which he was transferred on May 24 from the Gist Unit where he was serving a three-year sentence out of Nacogdoches County.

Herman Martinez, 70, who was serving a 15-year sentence out of Bexar County, died on May 28 at Hospital Galveston to which he was taken on May 12 from the Estelle Unit.

Harvey Lee Wendt, 79, who was serving a 45-year sentence out of Harris County, died on May 25 at Hospital Galveston to which he was transferred on May 8 from the Jester III Unit in Richmond.

Bernard Ferguson, who was serving a life sentence out of Bell County, died May 25 at Hospital Galveston to which he was transferred on May 6 from the Goree Unit.

Edward Chandler Hughes, Jr., 74, who was serving a life sentence out of Dallas County, died May 25 at Hospital Galveston to which he was transferred on May 17 from the Jester III Unit.

David Uhrich, 60, who was serving a five-year sentence out of Travis County, died May 19 at Hospital Galveston to which he was taken on May 13 from the Pack Unit.

David Quintero, 70, who was serving a 15-year sentence out of Bexar County, died May 10 at the Jester III Unit.

Jose Martinez, 67, who was serving a life sentence out of Hockley County at the Clements Unit in Amarillo, died May 15th after nearly a month in the hospital.

Jeffrey Davis, 45, who was serving a 15-year sentence out of Galveston County at the Beto Unit, died May 11 at a Tyler hospital to which he was taken on May 2.

Thomas Weber, 52, who was serving a 30-year sentence out of Polk Count at the Wynne Unit in Huntsville, also died May 11 at HCA Hospital in Conroe, to which he was taken on May 10.

Adrian Duncan, 52, who was serving a 35-year sentence out of Harris County at the Scott Unit in Angleton, died on May 10 at Hospital Galveston to which he was taken on April 26.

Terry Jackson, 57, who was serving a 45-year sentence out of Lamar County at the Clements Unit, died May 2 at Northwest Texas Hospital to which he was taken on April 24.

Daniel Thompson, 71, who was serving a 50-year sentence out of Harris County at the Pack Unit, died on May 5 at Hospital Galveston to which he was admitted on April 30.

James Powers, 77, who was serving a 20-year sentence out of Taylor County at the Ellis Unit in Huntsville, died on May 10 at Hospital Galveston after he was hospitalized on May 5.

Alfredo De La Vega, 54, who was serving a 20-year sentence out of Bexar County at the Montford Unit in Lubbock, died on May 5 at a Lubbock hospital to which he was admitted on April 27.

Bennie Skinner, 79, who was serving a life sentence out of Parker County at the Telford Unit in New Boston, died on April 29 at Wadley Hospital to which he was admitted on April 21.

Marion Sayles, 62, who was serving a life sentence out of Dallas County at the Telford Unit in New Boston, died May 6 after two weeks in ICU at Hospital Galveston.

Ramchand Jagaroo, 66, who was serving a life sentence out of Harris County, died May 3, 2020 at Northwest Texas Hospital to which he was taken on April 16 after developing symptoms.

Miguel Arciba, 62, who was serving a life sentence out of Ellis County at the Telford Unit in New Boston, died on May 3 after more than a week in intensive care at Hospital Galveston to which he was taken after developing symptoms on April 13.

Gerald Barragan, 62, who was serving a five-year sentence out of Kendall County, died on May 5 at Hospital Galveston to which he was taken on April 26.

Danilo Garza, 65, who was serving a life sentence at the Eastham Unit out of Cameron County, died on Monday at Hospital Galveston to which he was admitted on April 28.

Nicholas Paredez, 82, who was serving a 25-year sentence at the Estelle Unit, died on April 25, at Hospital Galveston to which he was taken on April 23.

Tommy Rodriguez, 62, died on May 2 after he was admitted to Hospital Galveston on April 13.

Ralph Neely, 70, died on April 29 at a local hospital to which he was transferred on April 17 from the Robertson Unit in Abilene where he was serving a life sentence out of Jefferson County.

Michael Milligan, 64, who was serving a 30-year sentence at the Terrell Unit in Rosharon, out of Tarrant County, died April 26 at Hospital Galveston to which he was taken on April 19.

Paul Brown, 55, who was serving a 50-year sentence at the Wynne Unit in Huntsville out of Orange County, died April 26 at Hospital Galveston to which he was taken on April 18.

Frederick Ebenal, who was serving a 48-year sentence at the Telford Unit in New Boston, died April 23 at a hospital after showing symptoms on April 18.

David Randle, 57, who was serving a 60-year sentence out of Brown County at the Estelle Unit, died on April 26 at Hospital Galveston, to which he was taken on April 18.

Luis Garza, 53, who was serving a 25-year sentence at the Wynne Unit, died on April 19 at Hospital Galveston to which he was taken on April 15.

Darrin Houston, 55, who was serving a life sentence out of Dallas County at the Estelle Unit, died on April 18 at Hospital Galveston to which he was taken on April 14.

James Matthews, 66, died on April 13 after he was found unresponsive in his cell at the Beto Unit where he was serving a 40-year sentence out of Hopkins County.

Nathaniel Morgan, 77, who was serving a life sentence at the Wynne Unit out of Tarrant County, died on April 24 at Hospital Galveston after suffering shortness of breath on April 22.

Vaughn Harvey, 70, who was serving a life sentence at the Wynne Unit out of Smith County, died on April 26 at Hospital Galveston to which he was transferred on April 23.

Timothy Bazrowx died on April 23 at Hospital Galveston after suffering from shortness of breath on April 17. He was serving a 20-year sentence out of Ellis County for aggravated sexual assault at the Wynne Unit.

Harold Dean Wilson, 65, also died on April 23 at Hospital Galveston to which he was transferred on April 18. He was serving a 20-year sentence at the Terrell Unit for possession of child pornography out of Randall County.

Thomas Rodriguez, 79, died on Aril 23 at Hospital Galveston to which he was transferred on April 19. Rodriguez, who had underlying conditions, was serving a life sentence for kidnapping out of Harris County at the Wynne Unit.

Robert Hohn, 79, who was serving a 50-year sentence out of Liberty County at the Telford Unit died on April 22 at Hospital Galveston. He had pre-existing conditions.

James Lorke, 65, died on April 21 after he was flown to Hospital Galveston. He had served 28 years of a 99-year sentence for murder out of Bexar County.

James Nealy, 68, was found unresponsive in his cell on April 15 at the Wynne Unit in Huntsville. He was pronounced dead at a hospital. A preliminary autopsy indicated the cause of death was COVID-19. Nealy was serving a 99-year sentence after he was convicted in Bell County of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Willie Eanes, 84, was taken on April 14 from the Telford Unit to the University of Texas Tyler Medical Center with symptoms consistent with the virus. He tested positive the next day and died on April 20. Eanes, who had underlying medical conditions, was serving a 45-year sentence after he was convicted of murder in Tarrant County.

Inmate Bartolo Infante, 72, died on April 7 after testing positive for the virus on April 3 at the Telford Unit in New Boston.

Inmate Leonard Clerkly, 62, who was who was serving a life sentence at the Pack Unit in Navsota for aggravated sexual assault of a child younger than 12 out of Tarrant County, died on April 11.

Inmate Johnny Davis, 60, who was serving a 10-year sentence at the Telford Unit in New Boston for obstruction/retaliation out of Hunt County, died on April 14 after testing positive for the virus.

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