LAFAYETTE, Colo. (KDVR) – The family of a Lafayette man who died from coronavirus complications has a warning to others: take the threat seriously.
"You know, I was one of the ones who downplayed it and thought it was funny, reading the memes and making jokes about it," admits Myke Rivera, whose father Dan Vigil died Sunday at a hospital in Lafayette.
"You know, it hits you right in the face, how quickly it happens," Rivera told FOX31’s Jeremy Hubbard.
About 10 days ago, Vigil was experiencing symptoms and had to be rushed by ambulance to the emergency room.
"Basically, they had to put him into a coma," Rivera said.
The speed at which Vigil's health deteriorated is what strikes his family. Within days, Vigil was gravely ill. His wife April was put in quarantine because of her exposure. The family was forced to be apart while making the most heartbreaking decision of their lives: the decision to take Vigil off life support.
"And I think the hardest thing was that we couldn't see him. My mom couldn't see him. We couldn't see my mom. She's still quarantined at home. You know, I (get) to chat with my mom through a window. How do you take that and how do you talk about that with your mom when you can't even be face-to-face with her, over the phone or on text, the conversations? I mean, that's the hardest thing in the world - this is the hardest thing I've ever had to do," Rivera said.
Now, even in their grief, the family is still forced to be apart.
"It separated our family to where we can't see each other because of quarantine," Rivera said.
Plans for a memorial service are even on hold while the family makes sure they’re all healthy. They have a message for the rest of us.
"I mean, it's real. I mean, it's the real deal, and you know, we as a family want to stress to people that you know, this is not a joke, this is not something to be taking lightly. Everybody needs to do their part,” Rivera said.
Relatives say Vigil worked for CenturyLink for over 40 years, worked hard for his family and loved the Broncos. They call him “the heart of Lafayette,” and say he would take long drives through the streets of town, waving and stopping to talk to everyone he knew. They’re thankful to the hospital staff members who treated Vigil in his final days, and say this is something they don’t want anyone else to face, so they hope Coloradans take the governor’s stay-at-home order seriously.