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Las Vegas father dies from COVID; ‘I should have gotten the damn vaccine’

Tucker Freedy keeps asking when Dad is coming home.

Each time he asks, Jessica DuPreez feels a stinging pain in her chest.

“There’s no revives, baby,” she tells her 6-year-old son. “Dad isn’t coming back.”

Tucker’s father, Mike Freedy, died Thursday morning at an area hospital of COVID-19 after doctors and nurses spent more than 30 minutes pumping his chest. He was 39.

“They couldn’t revive him,” DuPreez told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Monday. “They kept going and going, but he was gone.”

In a matter of days, Freedy’s death — detailed in a GoFundMe campaign created by DuPreez — had garnered widespread attention around the country. More than $61,000 had been raised as of Monday evening.

From his hospital bed, days before he died, the Las Vegas man texted his fiancée: “I should have gotten the damn vaccine.”

The couple had made the decision together to wait a year before getting inoculated.

“If I could, I would do it all over again,” said DuPreez, who has since gotten her first dose. “We would have been the first in line for it.”

Freedy and DuPreez, both gaming industry workers, met in 2013 while working at the Potawatomi Hotel and Casino in Milwaukee.

An introvert, DuPreez surprised herself and made the first move. She was drawn to his smile and couldn’t stop thinking about him.

One day in the employee break room, she walked up to Freedy and gave him her phone number. They were together for seven years.

Freedy loved DuPreez’s three sons from previous relationships like they were his own. Together, they had two more children.

“But he was Daddy to all five of them,” DuPreez said. “They all looked up to him.”

Most people looked up to Freedy. He was 6-foot-5, and he had a larger-than-life personality — so much so that he was affectionately known by family and friends as Big Mike.

“He could walk into a room full of strangers and walk out with an invitation to be the best man at someone’s wedding,” his fiancee said. “Everybody loved Big Mike.”

With a personality like that, working on a casino floor came naturally to Freedy.

At the time of his death, he was working as an assistant floor manager at M Resort in Henderson.

“He was a gentle giant with a warm heart and was personable with his team members and guests,” according to a statement from the M management team. “He took pride in his job and everyone who knew him, knew his greatest joy was his family.”

In his honor, M Resort will hold a vaccination event Thursday for employees and their families. For every dose administered, and for every vaccine card presented during the event as proof of prior vaccination, the resort will make a donation to Freedy’s family.

DuPreez hopes her fiancé’s story will prompt others to get vaccinated.

“I would do anything to bring him back,” she said, crying. “I watched him die, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.”

In addition to his fiancee, Freedy leaves behind sons Brayden, Spencer, Korbin and Tucker; his 1-year-old daughter, BrynLee; his mother, Linda; his sister, Marley; his brother, Marty; and his nieces and nephews.

In Clark County, 49 percent of those 12 and older — the population eligible for the vaccine — are fully vaccinated.

Contact Rio Lacanlale at rlacanlale@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0381. Follow @riolacanlale on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Mary Hynes contributed to this report.

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