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Officials: state trooper’s death caused by toxic chemicals

February 15, 2021 GMT

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A Washington State Trooper’s 2018 death has been reclassified as occurring in the line of duty after an investigation determined the cause of her fatal cancer was exposure to toxic chemicals during an illegal auto-wrecking investigation.

Trooper S. Renee Padgett was 50 when she died on Sept. 4, 2018, after a long battle with cancer, according to a Washington State Patrol news release.

Padgett was a trooper for 27 years, working first in Gig Harbor as a trooper cadet, then in Bellevue after completing her basic training, the Spokesman-Review reported.

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She was a wrecking-yard trooper in Bellevue during most of her career with the state patrol, which inspects wrecking yards, scrap processors and hulk haulers across the state, according to the WSP website.

Padgett won multiple awards and commendations while with the state patrol. She also contributed to the “very successful” project Homeward Bound, which helped find missing children in Washington state, according to WSP.

After her death, a forensic review by the state Department of Labor and Industries and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency determined the cause of Padgett’s cancer was exposure to highly toxic chemicals during an investigation into illegal auto wrecking.

Due to those findings, her death was reclassified as occurring in the line of duty.