CHANDLER, Ariz. — We’ve heard story after story detailing the cruel reality of COVID-19 in some families, and one case out of Chandler really packs a punch.
"There are so many words that come to my mind," says Kandace Reyes, when asked to describe her former Chandler High School teacher and swim coach Kerry Croswhite.
"Courageous. Brave. Strong. Fearless."
Because without him, Reyes says she wouldn't be here today.
Back in 2008, Croswhite sprang into action when she had a seizure in the pool. He pulled her out and gave her CPR.
"He didn’t even skip a beat," Reyes said. "He knew exactly what to do. We’ve never taken it for granted."
Which is why it’s so tough to stomach that the man who saved her lost his own fight.
According to his family, Croswhite was unresponsive, on a ventilator battling COVID-19 throughout the weekend.
He passed away Tuesday night, according to his wife.
"Kerry lost his battle at 6:01 p.m. this evening," she wrote. "He now can see all of your love and tributes and support."
He had been in the hospital since the beginning of July and his wife blogged regularly about his condition.
"I hate thinking about it," Reyes said. "I’ve never seen him have a bad day. Just seeing him helpless right now just breaks my heart."
Over the weekend, there were vigils for him outside the school's pool and softball field, where he also coaches.
"I don’t even know if coach Croswhite knows," Reyes says. "He is still talked about in my family. We talk about him constantly."
Reyes prayed with her community for the man who saved her.
"I’m here because of him," she says. "I’m able to live this healthy life because of him."
Reyes went on to become a teacher in Chandler herself.
Croswhite was one of two Chandler High School employees hospitalized with COVID-19, according to Chandler Unified School District. The other is security guard David Harris.
Both families have set up GoFundMe pages to help with expenses during this difficult time.