Updated August 14, 2021 - 1:29 pm
A Las Vegas flight attendant for Southwest Airlines has died from COVID-19, despite being fully vaccinated, his mother said Friday.
Maurice Reginald “Reggie” Shepperson, 36, spent more than a month at Henderson Hospital. His mother, Dawn Shepperson-Bernard, of Las Vegas, said she was notified of her son’s death early Tuesday.
“It shows how quick life can change,” Shepperson-Bernard said. “How you can build a life for yourself and how quickly your life can just be taken away. Everything that you worked for, so hard, it can just basically be left in ruins. Your family left in ruins.”
Southwest said Friday that Shepperson worked for the airline for about nine years. His mother said Reggie previously worked for AirTran Airways and had been a flight attendant since about 2007.
“We are heartbroken over the loss,” Southwest said in an email. “The Southwest Family is supporting each other, and our Employee’s family, during this difficult time. Out of respect for Reggie’s family, we do not have additional details to share.”
Shepperson-Bernard said her son was her anchor in life. She recalled how, as a 6-year-old in New York City, he once came to her during a tumultuous time and told the single mom not to worry because God would protect her.
“One message he gave me as a child, he said, ‘Mom they can’t hurt you,’” she said in a phone interview Friday. “I said, ‘Are you sure? Why do you say that?’
“‘Because God said your spirit is too pure,’” she quoted her son as saying. “That just lifted a load off of me.”
This emotional support and loving bond between mother and son continued throughout his life. Shepperson graduated from high school in Georgia, then moved to Las Vegas for his job as a flight attendant.
“He loved it,” she recalled. “Excellent at it. So professional. No matter what the situation he could remain calm.”
The mother and son traveled to Hawaii in late June. Both were tested repeatedly for COVID-19 with all test results coming back negative. Shepperson, however, became ill upon returning home. He immediately quarantined, then tested positive for COVID-19, his mother said. Shepperson’s mother would leave him food and drinks at his door as he quarantined.
“He said, ‘I have pain, a lot of pain everywhere,” she recalled, adding, “he was so sick he couldn’t get up.”
On July 7, Shepperson drove himself to the Henderson Hospital emergency room.
“He said he couldn’t breathe,” Shepperson-Bernard said. “He got into an accident in the parking lot (of the hospital), up against the sidewalk. He couldn’t breathe, and he was out of it.”
He spent the next four-plus weeks in the hospital, much of it on a ventilator. Shepperson-Bernard said she talked with her son daily on FaceTime, praying with him every day, every “hour on the hour,” she said, but her visits to him were limited because of coronavirus precautions.
“He would talk when he could,” Shepperson-Bernard said. “With the oxygen, he couldn’t do much talking. He would give me a thumbs-up when he could.”
A friend of Reggie’s, Marcia Hildreth, created a GoFundMe on Friday to help pay for funeral expenses.
“His personality, wit and humor were just a few characteristics that everyone adored,” she wrote. “He was one of the kindest most giving people I’ve ever known. If you needed him, he’d be there with no questions asked.”
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