‘The most brutal death I’ve ever seen’: Greeley families mourn loss after virus kills parents


Marty Evans and great-grandson Asher Simmons, left, pose for a photograph, and Rodney Myers, proper, smiles in his McDonald’s uniform. Evans and Myers have been killed by the brand new coronavirus this previous month. (Tracy Dilka and Gina Smith/For Greeley Tribune)

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Weld County officers have recognized almost 30 individuals who have died from the brand new coronavirus, and the deaths aren’t anticipated to finish anytime quickly.

Two Greeley ladies whose dad and mom have been killed by the virus this previous month hope others will take the virus extra critically and assist stop the deadly virus’ unfold.

Rodney Myers, who died at 75 on March 18, began feeling unwell March 5, the day Gov. Jared Polis introduced the state’s first two recognized circumstances. Gina Smith, Myers’ step-daughter, mentioned his situation acquired worse the next Sunday whereas he was at church.

“He was at church that Sunday and left the service as a result of he was feeling so sick,” Smith mentioned. “He would by no means do this.”

Smith mentioned Myers had been a longtime member of the Greeley Winery Church, 1015 ninth Ave. If he wasn’t working, he was often both spending time together with his household or his church, Smith mentioned. Myers was usually behind the scenes, serving to with upkeep and particular occasions.

After getting dwelling, Myers was bedridden. He wouldn’t eat; he couldn’t stroll; and he couldn’t speak as a lot, based on Smith.

On March 14, Myers’ son known as 911, and Myers was admitted to the emergency room at North Colorado Medical Middle. Inside an hour, Smith mentioned, Myers was placed on a ventilator and was unable to speak after that. He was examined for COVID-19, however the outcomes wouldn’t come till greater than every week after Myers’ dying.

Smith mentioned her step-brother, step-sister and she or he known as on a regular basis to see if the outcomes got here again or if there was any enchancment of their father’s situation. Sadly, there have been neither outcomes nor enhancements. On March 18, they have been invited to don private protecting tools and say their goodbyes. Myers died later that night time.

Myers’ household continued to attempt to discover out the take a look at outcomes to find out if he had the virus. On March 21, hospital workers requested if the household knew the place they wished Myers’ physique taken. They settled on Northern Colorado Crematory, which known as the hospital the next day. However Myers’ physique couldn’t be picked up till the hospital had take a look at outcomes, Smith mentioned.

After graduating from Fleming Excessive Faculty in 1963, Rodney Myers joined the U.S. Military. When he left the service, he moved to Greeley. (Gina Smith/For Greeley Tribune)

Myers’ household stored calling round to search out out their father’s take a look at outcomes. On March 25, officers with the coroner’s workplace mentioned they weren’t conscious Myers had died, or they’d have expedited his outcomes, based on Smith. On March 27, the household lastly heard the outcomes: constructive.

He was cremated March 28, two weeks after getting examined and 10 days after dying. Smith mentioned the entire thing was mentally draining.

“You consider your father, and also you need to present him respect,” she mentioned. “It’s a must to wait on providers, can’t do army gun salute. The whole lot is placed on maintain.”

Smith and her members of the family quarantined themselves for 14 days. She mentioned she had a fever, a cough, sniffles and a sore throat throughout her time in quarantine. Although it was robust quarantining by means of that point of mourning, Smith mentioned she understands the necessity to stop the unfold of the virus.

“Simply so different individuals know, those who’re going on the market with no masks in Weld County, it’s critical right here,” Smith mentioned. “Individuals want to understand that they should put masks on, they should keep dwelling as a result of it’s not honest to anyone else they offer it to, in the event that they do have it.”

Although he was older, Myers’ daughter Cristi Myers mentioned he was very wholesome earlier than contracting the virus. Not having the ability to put him to relaxation with a traditional service solely added to the ache, she mentioned.

“Can’t name if I’ve an issue, can’t name for recommendation, can’t name to inform him I really like him,” she mentioned in a press release. “Two of his grandkids acquired engaged this yr and he will be unable to attend their weddings. Going to overlook my greatest buddy, my buddy, we frolicked day-after-day.  Liked him with all my coronary heart.”

Earlier than his passing, Myers labored at McDonald’s 4 about 4 years, Smith mentioned. Different earlier employers included the Greeley Tribune, JBS and Monfort, the place he put in about twenty years every, she mentioned.

His son, Ricky Myers, mentioned Rodney Myers didn’t know strangers, regardless of the place he went.

“The factor I’ll most about my dad is his variety coronary heart, anyone that wanted assist he would cease no matter he was doing to assist them out,” Ricky Myers mentioned in a press release. “He was my roommate, my dad and I cherished him for all the pieces that he was, I’ll actually miss him.”

Smith mentioned they’re planning providers when the pandemic subsides and household and pals can collect collectively once more. She mentioned they’re planning a service on the church, a reception on the Greeley VFW Put up and a army gun salute when that point comes.

Dying as if by her largest fears

Tracy Dilka, left, dons protecting gear as she sits together with her mom, Marty Evans, proper, within the hospital. The cat was used to assist maintain up a cellphone, so Dilka’s older sister, Kelly Murphy, may see their mother. (Tracy Dilka/For Greeley Tribune)

Marty Evans, who died at 85 on March 31, had already began to fall into poor well being in November. She developed pneumonia, the flu and had blood clots in her lungs. Her daughter, Tracy Dilka, mentioned Evans was taken to the hospital 5 occasions from November to January.

On March 13, Evans had a chest X-ray performed, and on March 14 she was taken to a hospital for a blood draw to examine how her blood was clotting. Each occasions, Dilka made certain Evans stored her palms in her pockets to keep away from touching something. Because the outbreak, Dilka took precautions to maintain Evans from contracting the virus, together with letting her keep within the automobile to people-watch when Dilka went grocery purchasing.

Two days after the blood draw, they checked her vitals as a result of Evans was additionally an insulin-dependent diabetic. Evans’ oxygen ranges have been low, in order that they took her to an emergency room later that night time. Evans was examined for COVID-19, and the outcomes got here again destructive. Hospital workers handled her for pneumonia and bronchitis, and launched her on the fourth day.

Dilka mentioned Evans appeared to do all proper her first two days out of the hospital. However on March 21, Evans started sleeping much more than she often did. She additionally developed a little bit of a cough, Dilka mentioned.

On March 23, Evans began to look severely unwell. Her oxygen ranges have been low, in order that they took her again to the hospital. This time, she examined constructive for COVID-19.

“I acquired to stick with her within the emergency room till about 4, they usually have been ready for a mattress for her,” Dilka mentioned. “Her and I had by no means been separated.”

Dilka, who moved Evans to Greeley in 2017 from Wray after Dilka’s father died, was devastated. The 2 had virtually been inseparable since.

Tracy Dilka, Marty Evans and Teresa Nixon pose for a photograph at a on line casino, the place Dilka and Nixon took Evans for her 85th birthday in August. Dilka mentioned Evans was successful each slot machine she hit that night time. (Tracy Dilka/For Greeley Tribune)

Dilka and her husband, Troy, who personal and function Fonta’s Pizza, 2400 eighth Ave., known as the hospital each two hours to examine on Evans. On March 25, the physician informed Dilka it was an uphill battle and that he wasn’t certain they may overcome it. Three days later, a full battery of exams did not establish an underlying concern for Evans’ declining well being.

At Four a.m. March 29, the physician informed Dilka and her twin sister to return to the hospital. Dilka and her sister stayed within the room with their mother whereas carrying protecting gear till Evans died the morning of March 31. Dilka mentioned touching her mother felt like touching a sizzling toaster.

“Her largest worry was drowning or burning, and that’s principally what she did,” Dilka mentioned. “Her lungs simply stuffed up with fluid and her fever was simply uncontrollable.”

Tracy Dilka holds the hand of her mom, Marty Evans, as Evans is within the hospital with COVID-19. Dilka mentioned Evans was sizzling to the contact. (Tracy Dilka/For Greeley Tribune)

When Dilka’s father acquired sick three years earlier than, the household had a dialogue about end-of-life care. Evans was clear about not desirous to be placed on a ventilator, so the household declined that possibility March 28.

Dilka mentioned it was tough to be alone by means of the grieving course of. Like Smith, she self-quarantined to forestall the unfold of the virus.

Evans was a stay-at-home mother whereas Dilka and her siblings grew up. After that, she labored odd jobs and in native eating places. Dilka mentioned the entire household would go to church each Sunday and sit down for household meals each night time.

“She tucked us in each night time, so then when she moved up right here, the roles reversed. And so I tucked her in each night time,” Dilka mentioned.

To today, the household stays very shut, Dilka mentioned. They watched Evans’ graveside service in Wray from their telephones earlier this week. After they can, they’re planning to host a celebration of life with the entire household at a church in Kansas.

Dilka mentioned she additionally held the palms of her parents-in-law once they handed and her personal father’s when he handed. These deaths have been nothing like Evans’, she mentioned.

“I simply need individuals to know that COVID-19 is actual, and it’s the most brutal dying I’ve ever seen,” Dilka mentioned. “I’m hoping that if individuals can put Mother’s face to COVID, to Troy and I at Fonta’s, and know that it does hit, (that) we will put a cease to it.”

— Trevor Reid covers public issues of safety for the Greeley Tribune. Join with Trevor at (970) 392-4492, treid@greeleytribune.com or on Twitter, @treid71.





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