Correctional officer, dad of 3 dies of COVID-19 as US death toll climbs over 605,000

Luis Hernandez, 58, died on on March 31, 2021.

July 6, 2021, 6:03 AM

More than 605,000 Americans and counting have died from COVID-19.

Each week ABC News is spotlighting several Americans who have died from the virus.

Cathy Falkner

Cathy Falkner, a high school science teacher in Texas, died on Jan. 7, 2021, reported ABC affiliate KXXV.

The 47-year-old Ellison High School educator had a "thirst for knowledge," her obituary said.

Students and staff "will remember the positive impact she made on their lives during the three years she was on campus," the school district said in a statement.

"Despite the illness, Ms. Falkner’s main concern was for her students and their continued success in her class," the district said. "Her dedication educating students will be greatly missed."

Luis Hernandez 

Luis Hernandez, a 58-year-old correctional officer in Texas, died on on March 31, 2021.

Hernandez, who had more than 12 years of experience, was assigned to the Rufus H. Duncan Unit in Diboll and previously worked at the Gib Lewis Unit in Woodville, the department said.

"It is a choice to serve. Luis Hernandez made that choice to help others," said Texas Department of Criminal Justice Executive Director Bryan Collier. "Officer Hernandez was well respected among staff, loved his job, and his TDCJ family. His passing leaves a huge void at the Duncan Unit and with those who knew him. He will be deeply missed and always remembered."

"Luis Hernandez was a truly devoted family man and was loved by many," added Bobby Lumpkin, director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice 's correctional institutions. "Those who knew him will remember him as a man with a great sense of humor who took great pride in his job. Officer Hernandez’s passion was serving and helping others."

Hernandez leaves behind his wife and three children.

Cassandra Ann Pistorius

Cassandra Ann Pistorius, 69, of Marlton, New Jersey, is survived by her husband, five children and seven grandchildren, according to New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.

She died on Jan. 5, 2021, according to her obituary.

The Alabama native earned a bachelor’s degree at Temple University in Pennsylvania while working as a reading specialist for teenagers in Philadelphia, Murphy told reporters on June 30. She then received a master’s degree from Rider University in New Jersey, he said.

"When she hung up her teaching hat after 35 years, she didn’t stop learning. She went back to school to study pastoral counseling and got her doctorate from Newman University and spent the rest of her career counseling disadvantaged youth," Murphy said.

"She was proud and devoted to her Catholic faith and held numerous lay positions in the church," Murphy added.

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