Sacramento, California - Governor Gavin Newsom Tuesday issued the following statement regarding the COVID-19-related death of Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District Fire Captain W. Chris Mertz.

“Jennifer and I were deeply saddened to learn of the death of Fire Captain Mertz. Fire Captain Mertz devoted his life to protecting his fellow Californians and his tremendous bravery, dedication and sacrifice will not be forgotten. We offer our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time.”

Fire Captain Mertz, 54, died January 20 from complications related to COVID-19. He was a 30-year veteran of the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District. He previously served with the U.S. Forest Service and Federal Fire Department in San Diego.

Fire Captain Mertz is survived by his wife; son, a firefighter with CAL FIRE; two daughters; and parents. 

In honor of Fire Captain Mertz, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.