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COVID-19 claims the lives of 2 more Texas prison system employees

Correctional Officer IV Tawiwo Obele (left) died on Feb. 16 and Correctional Officer IV Vicky...
Correctional Officer IV Tawiwo Obele (left) died on Feb. 16 and Correctional Officer IV Vicky James died on Feb. 10.(TDCJ photos)
Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 7:12 PM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Texas (KWTX) – COVID-19 has claimed the lives of two more Texas Department of Criminal Justice correctional officers.

Correctional Officer IV Tawiwo Obele, 68, died on Feb. 16 and Correctional Officer IV Vicky James, 59, died on Feb. 10.

Obele who worked for the TDCJ for two years, was assigned to the Beto Unit in Palestine.

She tested positive for the virus on Jan. 31 and was hospitalized on Feb. 9 in Palestine, but was released later the same day.

She later fell ill and was taken to a Tyler hospital where she died early in the morning on Feb. 16.

“Officer Obele was a well-respected faithful teammate who was known as a mother figure to all,” said Kirt Stiefer, TDCJ Beto Unit senior warden.

“She would often pray with others and enjoyed sharing her passion of Christ. Officer Obele will be truly missed by the many that were blessed by having her in their lives.”

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is grieving the loss of an employee that is connected to the COVID-19 virus.

James, who had worked for the TDCJ for more than four years, was assigned to the Choice Moore Unit in Bonham.

She tested positive for the virus on Jan. 14 and was hospitalized four days later in critical condition.

She died on Feb. 10.

“Officer James was a well-respected teammate who really loved her job,” said Patrick Cooper, TDCJ Choice Moore Unit senior warden.

“In the words of a co-worker, she was a great person and quite a character. A true shift momma. Her respect for all made her a favorite to team with.”

Forty TDCJ employees diagnosed with the virus have died since the start of the pandemic.

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