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2nd Harris County deputy dies after hard-fought battle with COVID-19

Deputy Juan Menchaca leaves behind a wife and seven children. He was 70.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — A 70-year-old deputy with the Harris County Sheriff's Office has died due to COVID-19 complications, the sheriff's office confirmed.

Deputy Juan Menchaca died at the hospital Saturday after a lengthy battle with the virus. 

"Everyday our deputies are showing up for work knowing they're doing it in the midst of a pandemic, and they're putting themselves in jeopardy," said HCSO spokesman Jason Spencer.

He was an active deputy who had served with HCSO for more than 14 years. He was most recently assigned to the courts division.

"Deputy Menchaca was a beloved member of our Harris County Sheriff's Office family, and he will be terribly missed by all of us who had the honor of knowing him," said Sheriff Ed Gonzalez. "I ask the entire community to lift up Deputy Menchaca, his wife, Melissa, and their entire family in their prayers. I also ask that we all honor him by continuing to do our part to stop the spread of this terrible virus." 

Menchaca leaves behind a wife, seven children and 10 grandchildren. His wife Melissa Menchaca spoke to KHOU 11 outside the funeral home. 

"He loved to laugh," Melissa Menchaca said. "He was always serious at work. When he got home there was a silly side that his daughters, family and I were able to see, but not everybody saw. He loved his sports cars and loved playing his guitar."

Menchaca's death comes in the middle of a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across Harris County. Dr. Peter Hotez said it will likely only get worse. 

"This is not good," Hotez said. "We are at risk of having a serious epidemic in Houston and Harris County. Our police, fire and rescue and our front health line workers are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19, so my heart goes out to the sheriff and his family."

Menchaca is the second HCSO employee to die from COVID-19. In May, HCSO announced the death of Sgt. Raymond Scholwinski who also had a lengthy hospital battle.

"To lose another one of our brothers is heartbreaking to our whole family," Spencer said. "We hope this serves as a reminder that this virus is still with us and it's still moving among us and we have to do what we can as a community to slow the spread."

RELATED: 'He was pure gold,' | Emotional funeral, End of Watch ceremony for HCSO Sgt. Raymond Scholwinski

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