A Southwest Airways flight attendant based mostly in Las Vegas died Tuesday from COVID-19, in keeping with his household and co-workers.
Maurice “Reggie” Shepperson, a local New Yorker whose brightly coloured pants earned him the nickname Skittles throughout coaching in 2014, examined constructive for the coronavirus in early July and had been combating it in a hospital for a month, in keeping with Marcia Hildreth, a Southwest flight attendant who known as him her finest buddy.
He was on a ventilator and died early Tuesday, his mom, Daybreak Shepperson, informed USA TODAY. A nurse informed her it was from COVID-19.
Shepperson, 36, was totally vaccinated, his mom and Hildreth mentioned. He beloved to fly and took each precaution, carrying a masks, continually washing his fingers, sanitizing surfaces and wiping all the things down in resort rooms, Hildreth mentioned.
“It damage me so unhealthy as a result of it was simply so fast,” Daybreak Shepperson mentioned. “I did not have time to essentially even acknowledge what’s going on. That is mind-blowing. It is not actual. It is not actual. It is not actual.”
Hildreth mentioned she’s in disbelief, too.
“I will miss my buddy,” she mentioned.
Southwest spokesman Brandy King confirmed a Las Vegas-based worker died Tuesday however declined to offer particulars. Shepperson’s mom mentioned the airline reached out to her, and Hildreth mentioned Southwest contacted her after Shepperson’s dying and pulled her from a piece journey, so she might fly house to Las Vegas Wednesday.
“We are heartbroken over the lack of our Southwest worker,” King mentioned in an announcement. “Out of respect for the household, we should not have further info to share.”
Southwest and different airways haven’t launched statistics on the variety of COVID-19 circumstances and deaths amongst flight crews. The Affiliation of Flight Attendants-CWA, which represents flight attendants at United, Frontier, Spirit and Hawaiian airways, amongst others, estimated that 4,000 flight attendants throughout all airways within the USA have contracted the virus and 20 have died.
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Shepperson labored all through the pandemic and was pulled from work a number of instances due to COVID-19 publicity, Hildreth mentioned. He by no means examined constructive till July, she mentioned.
Co-workers known as Shepperson a excessive flyer: He picked up extra work journeys than most, partly to generate income, partly to journey wherever he might.
Kiki Lee was in Shepperson’s flight attendant coaching class in 2014 in Dallas, the place Southwest is predicated.
After 5 weeks of coaching, she and different newly minted flight attendants simply needed to go house. Shepperson began utilizing his worker flight perks. One of many first journeys, Lee recollects, was to China.
“He was hitting the skies proper means, utilizing his advantages,” Lee mentioned. “He beloved working, and he beloved the perks.”
Shepperson’s Fb web page exhibits his journey adventures, together with a number of work journeys to Hawaii. In June, he took his mom alongside for the experience. His mom mentioned that was one in every of his final work journeys for Southwest earlier than he examined constructive.
“He beloved journey, and anyone who knew him knew he beloved his mom,” Lee mentioned.
Travis Pittman, one other Las Vegas-based flight attendant for Southwest, met Shepperson when he relocated to Nevada from Tampa in 2016.
“That New York exterior can come off arduous and all that,” he mentioned. “However he was similar to a teddy bear, so candy on the within and really, very loving. Simply very enjoyable to be round.”
Daybreak Shepperson mentioned Reggie, whom she raised on her personal after his father died when he was 14 months previous, made her proud each time she walked by means of a Southwest terminal at an airport.
“Folks that I do not even know, as soon as they discover out I am Reggie’s mom mentioned, ‘Ma’am, you probably did an exquisite job. This can be a wonderful younger man,’” she mentioned. “As a mom, I really feel so blessed and proud as a result of that is all I needed in life was to boost my son proper.”
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