Coronavirus Florida: Daughter feels ’so lied to’ after vacation ends with infections, dad’s death – News – Panama City News Herald

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

It began off as a contented spring break trip. There was pool time at grandpa’s oceanside South Palm Seashore apartment, walks alongside the seashore 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 dwelling in Austin, Texas, affected by fevers and chills.

Her personal power sapped, Pierce made frantic day by day cellphone calls to JFK Medical Heart, as did her brother in Atlanta, desperately in search of updates they stated they hardly ever acquired about their father’s quickly deteriorating situation.

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“Typically they only hung up on us: ‘We will’t discuss proper now,’” Jon Paul Craciun stated. On one of many few occasions Pierce obtained via, 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 automotive buff, lived his remaining six days on a ventilator. He died on the night of April 1.

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

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

They usually’re nonetheless shaken by an ordeal Pierce blamed on the failure of presidency leaders to correctly warn the general public in regards to the rising menace of COVID-19, an invisible respiratory illness that spreads silently and might kill rapidly.

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

’I really feel so lied to’

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

“It’s completely superb. No one right here (in Palm Seashore County) has it,” Pierce remembers her father saying.

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

The primary infections in Palm Seashore 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 residence at The Sanctuary of Palm Seashore.

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 Seashore Put up, a revelation that has angered Craciun’s household.

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

“Throughout that point, once they have been saying it was secure to come back 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 numerous instances in Florida.”

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

She doesn’t understand how or the place her father and her circle of relatives contracted the virus. However she stated she’s assured it was someplace in Palm Seashore 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 rapidly 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 Common 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 appreciated to be known 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 pink wagon.

As he obtained older, his favourite job was lifeguard. His kids bear in mind the pleasure in his voice when he’d inform them in regards to the time he saved a pregnant girl from drowning whereas working at Farmer Jim’s swimming gap, a preferred 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 document for the 40-yard freestyle. He narrowly missed qualifying for the Olympics. “The child who beat him needed to swim towards Mark Spitz,” recalled Joe Craciun, Tom’s older brother.

He mounted up and flipped properties and dabbled within the inventory market however his ardour was vehicles. He raced Porches and Corvettes, purchased and offered vehicles for revenue, and took his children to automotive reveals on the weekend.

He retired early to Boca Raton and finally settled in South Palm Seashore, the place he loved internet hosting household and buddies at his oceanfront apartment. 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 frightened both. To start with of March, no person was speaking about it. He was nonetheless going to Starbucks together with his New York buddies and sitting there speaking about vehicles and ladies.”

Trip lower brief

Pierce stated her interior 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 competition. 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 possibilities. We are going to put on gloves and masks and seem like weirdos.’ Everybody within the airport checked out us as a result of no person had gloves and masks. Folks 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 Seashore 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 optimistic for coronavirus had flown into Palm Seashore Worldwide Airport on March 11.

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

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

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

‘He stated he’s afraid.’

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

She instantly known as her father. “He stated, ‘I really feel nice. Every part’s superb,’” she recalled.

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

In Austin, Pierce had her household examined for coronavirus. Her husband’s optimistic outcome got here again first, and the household quarantined at dwelling.

In Palm Seashore, Craciun known as his physician complaining a few sore throat, fever and headache. “His physician instructed him he didn’t meet the factors and simply to remain dwelling 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 out there but in Palm Seashore County, he drove himself to a drive-thru web site in Broward County operated by the Cleveland Clinic.

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

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

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

‘A physician by no means known 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 beneath as a result of I knew if he went beneath I would not get to speak to him and he might 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, ‘Whats up?’ I don’t hear something. ‘Dad?’ And I heard a lady 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 really like you.”

A couple of minutes later, a lady who Pierce assumed was a nurse known as her again to clarify they have been attempting to place her father on a ventilator. “Don’t fear. We are going to name you again when issues settle down,” Pierce stated she was instructed.

Nobody ever known as again that day, she stated.

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

The nurses instructed them they put a notice on the door to their father’s room asking a health care provider to name considered one of Craciun’s children.

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

Closing goodbyes from a cellular phone

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

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

“It was stunning. 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 urged the youngsters and grandkids document their goodbyes to Craciun after which textual content the priest with the audio information.

From his again porch in Atlanta, Jon Paul and his spouse and their two sons recorded their goodbyes. Pierce did the identical together 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 fingers.

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

A couple of minutes later, Father Gabriel known 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. They usually stated authorities leaders ought to have acted sooner to warn the general public.


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

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