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Las Vegas father of 5 dies at 39, texted ‘I should have gotten the damn vaccine’

A healthcare worker holds a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.Roger Kisby/Bloomberg

A Las Vegas father went to the emergency room with what he thought was just a sunburn. It turned out that he was positive for the coronavirus.

Michael Freedy, a 39-year-old casino worker, received the diagnosis after traveling to the beach in San Diego with his fiancée and five children, aged 17 months, 6, 7, 10, and 17 years old, according to the Las Vegas Fox 5 affiliate. The illness progressed swiftly after he tried to recover at home and he was later hospitalized with pneumonia in both lungs.

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


Freedy, who was unvaccinated, went on to be admitted to the intensive care unit and died on Thursday.

“We wanted to wait just one year from the release to see what effects people had,” DuPreez told KVVU. “But there was never any intention to not get it.”

One of the last text messages Freedy sent to his fiancée was one saying, “I should have gotten the damn vaccine.”

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

A surge in coronavirus cases across the US over the past month have been attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant. Some states are seeing particularly high caseloads — on Saturday, Florida broke its record for coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, with more than 21,000 reported in a day.

Public health experts say receiving a coronavirus vaccine prevents against severe COVID-19 disease and hospitalization. More than half of the country is unvaccinated.

Globe wire services was used in this report.

Lauren Booker can be reached at lauren.booker@globe.com.