Lost to coronavirus: Daughter feels ’so lied to’ after vacation ends with infections, dad’s death – News – The Palm Beach Post

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.


Coronavirus: Those we misplaced —The Palm Seaside Publish is chronicling the lives of the folks in Palm Seaside County who died within the pandemic.


It began off as a cheerful spring break trip. There was pool time at grandpa’s oceanside South Palm Seaside condominium, 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 had been again residence in Austin, Texas, affected by fevers and chills.

Her personal power sapped, Pierce made frantic each day cellphone calls to JFK Medical Middle, as did her brother in Atlanta, desperately searching for updates they mentioned they hardly ever acquired about their father’s quickly deteriorating situation.

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Learn extra: Misplaced to coronavirus

“Typically they simply hung up on us: ‘We are able to’t speak proper now,’” Jon Paul Craciun mentioned. On one of many few instances Pierce acquired by, she mentioned, a multitasking nurse who answered the cellphone could possibly be heard asking somebody to “seize two extra physique baggage.”

Regardless of their a number of requests, Pierce and her brother mentioned they by no means spoke to a JFK physician about their father’s situation the whole 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 tip, his youngsters and grandkids mentioned their ultimate 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 mentioned she, her husband Robert and their daughter Hunter are nonetheless recovering at residence with COVID-19 signs.

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They usually’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 might kill shortly.

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

’I really feel so lied to’

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

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

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

The primary infections in Palm Seaside County had 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 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 Publish, a revelation that has angered Craciun’s household.

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

“Throughout that point, once they had been saying it was protected to come back to Florida and it was protected to fly and there have been no instances, the reality is in Florida you guys did not have any exams. 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 protected is simply mistaken and unhealthy.”

She doesn’t understand how or the place her father and her circle of relatives contracted the virus. However she mentioned 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 mentioned 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 mentioned. “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 usually poked enjoyable at, saying he was loud as a result of he all the time needed to shout above the hum of the machines.

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

As he acquired older, his favourite job was lifeguard. His youngsters bear in mind the delight in his voice when he’d inform them concerning 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 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 reveals on the weekend.

He retired early to Boca Raton and ultimately settled in South Palm Seaside, the place he loved internet hosting household and pals at his oceanfront condominium. 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 mentioned.

“He wasn’t apprehensive 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 women.”

Trip minimize quick

Pierce mentioned 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 competition. It was one of many first coronavirus cancellations of a serious occasion in the US.

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

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“I mentioned, ‘We aren’t 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 had been saying, ‘You are going overboard.’ However we had Clorox wipes and wiped the seats down. We had been past cautious.”

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

That was the day the primary two infections within the county had 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 Seaside Worldwide Airport on March 11.

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

Craciun and his household nonetheless went out for lunch in the future, at a crowded oceanfront spot, and so they 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 mentioned he’s afraid.’

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

She instantly known as her father. “He mentioned, ‘I really feel nice. All the things’s fantastic,’” she recalled.

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

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

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In Palm Seaside, Craciun known as his physician complaining a few sore throat, fever and headache. “His physician instructed him he didn’t meet the standards and simply to remain residence 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 Seaside 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 acquired residence, he might barely stroll up the steps and down the corridor to his condominium. He collapsed on the sofa and was struggling to breathe,” Pierce mentioned. “We instructed him to go to the hospital. He mentioned, ‘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 residence in Atlanta, known 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 mentioned he’s afraid. He might simply by no means catch his breath,” Jon Paul mentioned.

‘A physician by no means known as me’

Pierce mentioned she made her father promise to name her when a health care provider got here to see him “so I might speak 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 speak 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 might by no means come out,” she mentioned.

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 girl throughout the room in a panicked voice, ‘Put the cellphone down! There isn’t any time to speak!’”

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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 needed to say how a lot I really like you.”

A couple of minutes later, a girl who Pierce assumed was a nurse known as her again to clarify they had been making an attempt to place her father on a ventilator. “Don’t fear. We’ll name you again when issues settle down,” Pierce mentioned she was instructed.

Nobody ever known as again that day, she mentioned.

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

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

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

Closing goodbyes from a mobile phone

On March 30, Pierce mentioned, she acquired 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 tip?”

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

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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 mentioned he noticed Craciun twitch and gently transfer his palms.

“It was so stunning,” Ghanoum mentioned. “He heard what was mentioned 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 mentioned, “after which we mentioned goodbye on speaker once more and hung up.”

Pierce barely has had time to grieve. She has been making an attempt 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 mentioned they perceive the pandemic is an unprecedented problem for presidency leaders and well being care employees.

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



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