‘I should have gotten the damn vaccine’: Father of 5 dies of COVID at age 39

Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 2:54 PM EDT
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LAS VEGAS (KVVU) - A family is mourning the loss of a husband and father after he died from COVID-19.

“He was only 39; our babies now don’t have a dad,” Jessica DuPreez said through tears. “You can’t say, ‘I’m young, and it won’t affect me.’ Because it will.”

Just two weeks ago, DuPreez said life was great. She was on vacation in San Diego with her fiancé Michael Freedy, known as “Big Mike” at the M Resort where he worked, and their five kids, ages 17, 10, 7, 6, and 17 months.

“We went out to the beach. We didn’t put on sunblock, so everyone got really sunburnt,” she said. “Dad (Freedy) really got sunburnt.”

His sunburn was so bad, he went to the ER when back in Vegas. A COVID test at the hospital came back positive, but he went home to try and fight it out in isolation.

“Early Tuesday morning, I would say around 3,4 o’clock in the morning, he wakes me up panicking,” DuPreez said. “He’s like, ‘I can’t breathe. I know something is wrong.’”

She said he could not even stand when he tried, so they went back to a hospital.

He was admitted with pneumonia in both lungs and eventually transferred to another hospital where she was allowed to see him.

“I just kept telling him, ‘You are going to get through this; you’ve got to come home to us,’” she said.

Days later, things took a turn for the worse and Freedy was transferred to the ICU.

“I was able to call before they took him in, and he sat on the phone,” DuPreez said. “And I was able to hear him. I was like, ‘Please keep fighting. Don’t give up.’ And he’s like, ‘I’m trying to fight, but they are going to intubate me and put me under.’”

She got to go in and see him.

“The machine started going crazy; his pulse was gone,” she said. “Like five people rushed in, they did a code.”

She watched as they did chest compressions for more than half an hour.

“Because we were engaged, the doctor comes over to me and she is like, ‘I need you to call his mother. She is the next of kin,’” DuPreez said. “And I was like, ‘Oh my God, this isn’t good.’ So they get her on the phone, and they tell her that there is nothing they can do. That it’s done.”

Doctors told her they thought Freedy had a blood clot.

“It is so surreal, because I don’t know what to do,” DuPreez said.

He was not vaccinated for COVID.

“We wanted to wait just one year from the release to see what effects people had, but there was never any intention to not get it,” she said.

That is a decision she says she will always regret. DuPreez has now gotten the shot along with their oldest child.

“That was one of the last text messages he sent to me was that he wished he would have, because even if it stopped a little bit of the symptoms, it could have stopped it from progressing so fast,” DuPreez said.

The text read, “I should have gotten the damn vaccine.”

Now his family is pleading with others to get vaccinated, to save lives and prevent the unimaginable heartbreak they are now going through.

“I expected to get 30 more years with him,” DuPreez said. “I didn’t expect him to be gone.”

“He was the best dad anyone could have,” said one of their children.

The delta variant of the virus continues to spread rapidly across the U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently changed its masking recommendations, now urging even vaccinated people to resume wearing masks indoors in some public areas.

Copyright 2021 KVVU via CNN Newsource. All rights reserved.