39-Year-Old Fla. Father Dies of Coronavirus Despite Having No Underlying Health Issues, Wife Says
A Florida family has been left heartbroken after a husband and father, who they say was healthy and had no clear underlying conditions, died from COVID-19.
Conrad Buchanan died on March 26 at Gulf Coast Medical Center in Fort Myers, less than two weeks after he first showed symptoms of the novel coronavirus, according to the Fort Myers News-Press.
“He was so scared,” his wife Nicole Buchanan told the local outlet. “Watching somebody go through this … it’s just … He was healthy. He was fine.”
The 39-year-old father, who was known professionally as DJ Griff Gotti, started to feel ill on March 14 but his wife Nicole, 37, said he struggled for days to get tested.
“I fought and fought and fought,” she explained to CNN in a video interview with their 12-year-old daughter Skye. “They didn’t want to test him due to his age and that he had no underlying health issues.”
After four days, Conrad finally obtained a test. His results didn’t come in until March 21, but by that point — a week after his body aches and low fever first started — Nicole said his health began to noticeably get worse.
“That day, he started to decline — because he did not have a horrible cough at this whole time,” she explained to CNN.
The results were also especially concerning to the couple because, in the week leading up to Conrad’s illness, the DJ had been working at a number of bars and nightclubs around Fort Myers, according to the News-Press.
“He was around so many people and so many people aren’t taking this seriously,” Nicole explained to the local outlet. “There’s no way to be able to reach out to everyone. With him being a DJ, he is such a social butterfly.”
In an effort to notify those to whom he may have exposed the illness, Conrad revealed that he had tested positive on Facebook and urged everyone to take it seriously.
“My people…. I implore all of you to be vigilante [sic] with your health in these trying days. We all can be affected,” he wrote beside a photo of himself with an oxygen tube in his nose. “This past week has been extremely hard.”
“Keep your distance from people please, if you don’t have to be in public settings, choose solitary confinement as your first option,” he added. “Be safe…. I am doing everything that I can to get my health back on track.”
A day after that post, Conrad’s health worsened, which prompted Nicole to bring him to the hospital.
“I never saw him again,” she told CNN through tears. “They wouldn’t let me in the hospital as he was begging, ‘I need my wife. My wife makes my decisions.'”
“We thought that I was gonna get to go in with him, and when I walked up to the doors, the hospital was on lockdown,” she added. “They wouldn’t let anybody in. After that, that was it. I never got to say ‘I love you,’ nothing.”
After his death — which marked the fourth and youngest victim in Lee County to die from the virus, according to the News-Press — a GoFundMe was set up on behalf of Conrad and his family. Over $81,000 has been raised so far.
“He was a dedicated, loving husband, father, and friend,” the page reads. “He worked hard to help support his family.”
The page also mentioned the special bond that Conrad shared with Skye — something she spoke more in detail about to CNN.
“We always liked to watch The Flash together,” she explained. “He would do dances with me, and it was funny because he could perform in front of millions of people when he deejayed, and he could dance but he wasn’t the best. And he would do ballet with me because we had daddy-daughter things sometimes.”
“We shared everything,” she went on. “He brought me to school, he brought me to ballet, he was my everything.”
Speaking to the News-Press about her father, the sixth-grader added: “He brightened up anyone’s tough day.”
Their bond was also evident to Nicole, who told the local outlet, “She looks just like him. She’s got his blood running through her veins.”
As the family continues to grieve this unimaginable loss, Nicole said she plans on celebrating Conrad’s life when it is safe to do so.
“He would never want a funeral,” she told the News-Press. “I want to do something really amazing and unique for him.”
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Until then, she’s hoping people stay home and take the social distancing mandates seriously so that no one else has to experience such a tragedy.
“I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy,” she told the outlet. “We can stop this from happening. Enjoy your time with your family in there, because you can end up where we are.”
“He’s my soulmate,” Nicole added. “I am not sure how we are going to get through this.”
As of Thursday afternoon, there have been at least 234,483 cases and 5,708 deaths attributed to coronavirus in the United States, according to the New York Times. In Florida, there have been at least 8,010 reported cases and 128 deaths, according to the Times.
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