Coronavirus Florida: Daughter feels ’so lied to’ after vacation ends with infections, dad’s death – News – Daytona Beach News-Journal Online

Coronavirus in Florida: Tom Craciun, 77, a collegiate swimming champion in his prime and lifelong automobile buff, lived his ultimate six days on a ventilator.

It began off as a contented spring break trip. There was pool time at grandpa’s oceanside South Palm Seaside rental, walks alongside the seaside and a visit to Lion Nation Safari the place Tom Craciun and his twin granddaughters fed the giraffes.

Lower than two weeks later, Craciun was dying from coronavirus. His daughter, Nancy Jean Pierce, and her household have been again house in Austin, Texas, affected by fevers and chills.

Her personal power sapped, Pierce made frantic every day cellphone calls to JFK Medical Middle, as did her brother in Atlanta, desperately looking for updates they stated they not often acquired about their father’s quickly deteriorating situation.

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“Typically they simply hung up on us: ‘We will’t discuss proper now,’” Jon Paul Craciun stated. On one of many few instances Pierce bought by means of, she stated, a multitasking nurse who answered the cellphone may very well be heard asking somebody to “seize two extra physique baggage.”

Regardless of their a number of requests, Pierce and her brother stated they by no means spoke to a JFK physician about their father’s situation your entire seven days Craciun was within the hospital.

Cracuin, 77, a collegiate swimming champion in his prime and lifelong automobile buff, lived his ultimate six days on a ventilator. He died on the night of April 1.

Simply earlier than the top, his youngsters and grandkids stated their ultimate goodbyes to him — on audio messages recorded a day earlier and despatched to a compassionate hospital chaplain, who performed them on a wise cellphone held subsequent to Craciun’s ear.

Pierce stated she, her husband Robert and their daughter Hunter are nonetheless recovering at house with COVID-19 signs.

And so they’re nonetheless shaken by an ordeal Pierce blamed on the failure of presidency leaders to correctly warn the general public concerning the rising menace of COVID-19, an invisible respiratory illness that spreads silently and may kill shortly.

“It was like we had simply left, after which he was dying,” Pierce recalled. “We have been within the pool and on the seaside holding his palms, after which he was lifeless. What occurred?”

’I really feel so lied to’

Pierce stated she’d thought of scrapping the spring break go to earlier than her household left Texas on March 11. However she stated her father finally persuaded her to return.

“It’s completely advantageous. No person right here (in Palm Seaside County) has it,” Pierce remembers her father saying.

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Trying again on it, she stated, his assurances have been in all probability based mostly on deceptive info.

The primary infections in Palm Seaside County have been reported by the state well being division on March 13, two days after Craciun fetched Pierce and her household on the Fort Lauderdale airport and shuttled them to his condo at The Sanctuary of Palm Seaside.

It seems the county — the third-largest in Florida — had been woefully behind in testing its inhabitants, as first reported March 25 by The Palm Seaside Put up, a revelation that has angered Craciun’s household.

“I really feel so lied to,” Pierce stated, holding again tears.

“Throughout that point, after they have been saying it was secure to return to Florida and it was secure to fly and there have been no instances, the reality is in Florida you guys did not have any checks. It wasn’t that there weren’t a variety of instances in Florida.”

She added, “If we’d’ve recognized, we simply wouldn’t have gone. To offer the impression it was secure is simply flawed and unhealthy.”

She doesn’t know the way or the place her father and her circle of relatives contracted the virus. However she stated she’s assured it was someplace in Palm Seaside County, the vacation spot final month of many guests fleeing New York, the nation’s coronavirus epicenter.

Jon Paul Craciun stated he’s surprised over how shortly the illness killed his father, who “acted 20 years youthful,” labored out on a regular basis on an elliptical machine and insisted on cleansing the gutters and mowing the garden on visits to his son’s home in Atlanta.

“Nothing held him again,” his son stated. “That is what blows our minds about this coronavirus.”

Champion swimmer

Tom Craciun labored 30 years as a supervisor at a Normal Motors plant in Warren, Ohio, north of Youngstown. He had a booming voice that he typically poked enjoyable at, saying he was loud as a result of he at all times needed to shout above the hum of the machines.

Born John Thomas Craciun, he favored to be referred to as Tom. A tough employee from a younger age, he and his brother Joe would decide strawberries, blackberries and mulberries and promote them to neighbors from their little purple wagon.

As he bought older, his favourite job was lifeguard. His youngsters keep in mind the delight in his voice when he’d inform them concerning the time he saved a pregnant lady from drowning whereas working at Farmer Jim’s swimming gap, a well-liked hangout in northeast Ohio.

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An all-state swimming champion in Ohio, he made it to the Olympic trials and set a world file for the 40-yard freestyle. He narrowly missed qualifying for the Olympics. “The child who beat him needed to swim in opposition to Mark Spitz,” recalled Joe Craciun, Tom’s older brother.

He fastened up and flipped properties and dabbled within the inventory market however his ardour was automobiles. He raced Porches and Corvettes, purchased and bought automobiles for revenue, and took his youngsters to automobile exhibits on the weekend.

He retired early to Boca Raton and ultimately settled in South Palm Seaside, the place he loved internet hosting household and associates at his oceanfront rental. In November, he had Thanksgiving dinner with Jon Paul, the final time father and son would see one another.

“I by no means thought for a second, not even a second, that I might lose him to this coronavirus,” Jon Paul stated.

“He wasn’t fearful both. At first of March, no one was speaking about it. He was nonetheless going to Starbucks along with his New York buddies and sitting there speaking about automobiles and ladies.”

Trip lower quick

Pierce stated her inside alarm bells began going off round March 6, when metropolis leaders in her hometown of Austin canceled South by Southwest, the worldwide music and movie pageant. It was one of many first coronavirus cancellations of a significant occasion in the USA.

Even after Craciun persuaded his daughter to go to him, Nancy Pierce stated she and her household took precautions on their flight.

“I stated, ‘We’re not taking probabilities. We’ll put on gloves and masks and appear like weirdos.’ Everybody within the airport checked out us as a result of no one had gloves and masks. Individuals have been saying, ‘You are going overboard.’ However we had Clorox wipes and wiped the seats down. We have been past cautious.”

The primary two days in Palm Seaside have been enjoyable. However on March 13, the vibe drastically modified.

That was the day the primary two infections within the county have been reported. It was additionally the day the native media retailers reported {that a} man who had examined constructive for coronavirus had flown into Palm Seaside Worldwide Airport on March 11.

“I went into the grocery retailer and it was like chaos,” Pierce stated. “Individuals had masks on. You couldn’t get meals. I assumed, ‘That is bizarre.’”

Craciun and his household nonetheless went out for lunch at some point, at a crowded oceanfront spot, they usually visited Lion Nation Safari. However Pierce determined to chop the Florida journey quick.

She and her household flew again to Austin on March 17.

‘He stated he’s afraid.’

The following morning, she stated, she wakened with a 103-degree fever. A couple of hours later, her husband, Robert, began feeling signs.

She instantly referred to as her father. “He stated, ‘I really feel nice. Every little thing’s advantageous,’” she recalled.

However when she referred to as him the next morning, March 19, she stated Craciun informed her he was “beginning to really feel slightly sick.”

In Austin, Pierce had her household examined for coronavirus. Her husband’s constructive end result got here again first, and the household quarantined at house.

In Palm Seaside, Craciun referred to as his physician complaining a few sore throat, fever and headache. “His physician informed him he didn’t meet the standards and simply to remain house and it was in all probability simply the flu,” Jon Paul recalled.

On March 24, Craciun heeded his household’s pleas to get examined. As a result of there was no testing obtainable but in Palm Seaside County, he drove himself to a drive-thru website in Broward County operated by the Cleveland Clinic.

“It took every thing out of him. When he bought house, he might barely stroll up the steps and down the corridor to his rental. He collapsed on the sofa and was struggling to breathe,” Pierce stated. “We informed him to go to the hospital. He stated, ‘Let me sleep tonight. And see how I really feel within the morning.’”

The following day, he was nonetheless struggling to breathe. Jon Paul, from his house in Atlanta, referred to as the doorman at The Sanctuary and requested him to name 911. Craciun was taken to JFK Medical Middle and, after a 12-hour wait, was admitted with an oxygen masks.

He spoke to his youngsters through cell. “He stated he’s afraid. He might simply by no means catch his breath,” Jon Paul stated.

‘A health care provider by no means referred to as me’

Pierce stated she made her father promise to name her when a health care provider got here to see him “so I might discuss to them, too.” She additionally made him promise to name her if he was about to be placed on a ventilator.

“I begged them to let me discuss earlier than he goes below as a result of I knew if he went below I would not get to speak to him and he could by no means come out,” she stated.

On the morning of March 27, Pierce grabbed her cellphone and noticed a name coming in from her dad. “I’m like, ‘Hey?’ I don’t hear something. ‘Dad?’ And I heard a girl throughout the room in a panicked voice, ‘Put the cellphone down! There is no such thing as a time to speak!’”

Struggling to breathe, Craciun had sufficient power to name his daughter because the nurse ready to place him on a ventilator. “I’d made him promise as a result of I wished to say how a lot I like you.”

A couple of minutes later, a girl who Pierce assumed was a nurse referred to as her again to elucidate they have been attempting to place her father on a ventilator. “Don’t fear. We’ll name you again when issues settle down,” Pierce stated she was informed.

Nobody ever referred to as again that day, she stated.

Pierce and her brother stated they made quite a few calls day-after-day for the subsequent a number of days, getting solely sporadic info from nurses who stated he was “steady.”

The nurses informed them they put a observe on the door to their father’s room asking a health care provider to name one among Craciun’s youngsters.

“I assure the nurses have been attempting,” she stated, “however a health care provider by no means referred to as me to say, ‘Nancy, your father is dying.’ For 5 days, I assumed he was simply going alongside and perhaps he would get higher. That’s how they led me to assume.”

Last goodbyes from a mobile phone

On March 30, Pierce stated, she bought a cellphone name from JFK.

“The nurse tells me my father goes to die. ‘His organs are in failure. We do not assume he’ll make it greater than 24 to 48 hours,”’ she recalled.

“It was surprising. He has been in there for seven days and nobody has even bothered to name me. How might you wait till the top?”

A useful nurse, Pierce recognized her as Samantha Quesada, put the household in contact with Father Gabriel Ghanoum, the JFK chaplain. He steered the youngsters and grandkids file their goodbyes to Craciun after which textual content the priest with the audio recordsdata.

From his again porch in Atlanta, Jon Paul and his spouse and their two sons recorded their goodbyes. Pierce did the identical along with her household in Austin.

Round 7 p.m. on April 1, Ghanoum — wearing protecting masks and clothes — held his cellphone subsequent to Craciun’s ear. Because the recordings of his household’s voices stuffed the room, Ghanoum stated he noticed Craciun twitch and gently transfer his palms.

“It was so lovely,” Ghanoum stated. “He heard what was stated to him. He was acknowledging.”

A couple of minutes later, Father Gabriel referred to as Nancy and Jon Paul and put them on speaker cellphone.

“We heard him give my dad his final rites,” Nancy stated, “after which we stated goodbye on speaker once more and hung up.”

Pierce barely has had time to grieve. She has been attempting to get her chest X-rays and caring for her husband and daughter Hunter, who has had a fever for 18 consecutive days as of April 16. Hunter’s twin sister, Addi, has not had signs.

Pierce and her brother stated they perceive the pandemic is an unprecedented problem for presidency leaders and well being care staff.

However they stated a JFK physician ought to have discovered time to speak with them about their father earlier than he died. And so they stated authorities leaders ought to have acted sooner to warn the general public.


This story initially printed to, and was shared to different Florida newspapers within the USA TODAY Community – Florida.

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