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A correctional officer in the California state prison system died Saturday after testing positive for the coronavirus, officials said.

While the Riverside County coroner will need to determine the precise cause of death for Danny Mendoza, 53, he could be the first staff member of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to fall victim to COVID-19.

“I am deeply saddened by this dedicated officer’s passing,” CDCR Secretary Ralph Diaz said in a statement. “My prayers are with the Mendoza family during this challenging time, and I know that everyone at CDCR sends their condolences and support.”

Mendoza had worked for the department for 24 years and was appointed as a cadet in 1996. Once he graduated, he became a correctional officer at Calipatria State Prison in Imperial County.

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