NEWARK N.J. – A federal TSA K9 handler at New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport passed away Thursday from COVID-19.
Francis “Frank” Boccabella III died from complications with the virus. He is the first federal TSA employee who has died from COVID-19, FOX News reported.
Boccabella, 39, originally joined the TSA in 2004. He worked as a TSA officer in addition to assisting cargo inspectors during the screening process. Eventually, he became a K9 handler specializing in explosives.
At the time of his passing, Boccabella was teamed with K9 Bullet, app.com reported.
TSA issued a statement regarding the loss.
The passing of Francis ‘Frank’ Boccabella III, a valued friend and colleague of the entire Transportation Security Administration family at Newark Liberty International Airport and the larger TSA canine community, saddens all of us deeply. His passing represents a personal loss to all of us who knew him and cherished both his friendship and professionalism. We offer heartfelt condolences to Frank’s wife, extended family, his TSA colleagues and his friends.
TSA has recently increased protocols surrounding how it deals with the spread of coronavirus, such as allowing employees to wear N95 masks and eye protection, as well as mandatory nitrile gloves.
“TSA will continue to follow guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration regarding workforce protection. We are working closely with CDC and will follow any additional guidance that is issued,” a previous statement from TSA to FOX News read.