x
Breaking News
More () »

Phoenix's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Phoenix, Arizona | 12NEWS.com

'He smiled with his whole being': Family says healthy 38-year-old Valley man dies from COVID-19

Raul Pacheco says his brother's condition was a roller coaster of ups and downs, a ride no family ever wants to take. What's worse is they couldn't even visit him.

QUEEN CREEK, Ariz. — Best friends Andrew Guthrie and Edgar Pacheco would do everything together.

"The highlight was kind of just him," Guthrie said, "his personality, his sense of humor."

Guthrie says he and Pacheco had been friends since junior high. They'd gone skydiving, swimming in the ocean and even climbed Machu Picchu in Peru just a few weeks ago in early March.

"We did have one heck of a last hurrah," Guthrie said. "Unfortunately, we didn’t know it was hurrah."

The disbelief is still sinking in that a person who lived so fiercely, could be taken in such a fierce way

State data shows the age group with the most confirmed coronavirus cases in Arizona are people 20-44 years old, with more than 1,500 confirmed cases in that age group as of mid-April.

Health experts say most people in this age group will recover, but there have been cases of young, otherwise healthy people having serious complications. Unfortunately, that's Edgar's story, passing away at age 38.

After Edgar got back to Queen Creek from Peru in mid-March, his family says they told them he thought he had bad allergies. He had already been staying home from work, a self-quarantine because he'd traveled out of the country.

"I go, 'Why don’t you go to get tested to make sure it's not COVID?'" explained his older brother Raul Pacheco. "And he said, 'Even if it is, they’ll send me home. I have a low-grade fever, a little bit of runny nose. I feel fine.'"

But one morning, Raul says his brother felt so bad, that his fiance called in paramedics. They say he suffered from a seizure and was rushed to Banner Baywood in Mesa. Once he got there, Raul says Edgar tested positive for COVID-19 and was put on a ventilator.

"He’ll get better," Raul said he initially thought. "He’s 38 years old. He’s young, he’s strong. He doesn’t have medical issues. He’ll pull through. That’s not a problem."

Until it was. Raul says his brother's condition was a roller coaster of ups and downs, a ride no family ever wants to take. What's worse is they couldn't even go in to see him.

"We just wanted him to hear our voices," said Sandra, Raul's wife. "It was the worst thing for us knowing he was in the hospital alone and we couldn’t be there."

They'd have nurses go into his room at night and leave a phone on.

"Talking to him all night until 1, 2, 3 in the morning," said Raul. "Just hearing the beeping in the background, nobody responding. It was tough just to listen to that.

After eight days on the ventilator, on April 7, Raul says they got the call from his doctors.

"His heart just gave out," Raul said. "They tried to revive him, but he just didn't make it."

Their hearts are broken but still beating with new purpose to honor their brother, father, son and friend.

"We want people to be able to remember the happy Edgar that he was," Sandra said, "that smiled that everyone loved. He stole everyone’s heart with that smile."

Along with his brother, sister-in-law and fiance, Edgar also leaves behind his parents and two young daughters and a lot of extended family and friends, none expecting his rapid decline.

Edgar's family and friends set up a GoFundMe page for anyone who wants to help. You can donate here

Edgar's fiance Kali put out this statement: 

He is and will always be the love of my life. He is a caring, supportive, genuine and amazing friend, father and companion. I’m heartbroken for losing him but I’m so incredibly grateful for the love that we share. I don’t know how I can move past this but I know he would want me to be okay. I will continue to live life fully in his honor.

His longtime friend Andrew Guthrie also organized a caravan memorial for Edgar last weekend to honor his life while social distancing.

"It was a mini closure for a lot of us," Andrew said. "I have a lifetime of memories with the guy.  No longer going to be new ones. Just the old ones."

MORE STORIES:

Feeling short of breath? How anxiety can trick you into thinking you have COVID-19

 Healthcare systems, families strained as COVID-19 cases continue to rise on the Navajo Nation

 President Trump unveils 'Guidelines for opening up America again'