MILWAUKEE -- The number of deaths in the state from coronavirus was at five Tuesday, March 24, state health officials reported, and three of those deaths occurred in Milwaukee County. Roderick Crape, 54, died Friday night, March 20, less than eight hours after he was admitted to the hospital. Loved ones said symptoms were swift and severe.
"That morning, he wasn't feeling good," said John Harris, a close friend of Crape. "I told him to go to the doctor."
Harris said by the time he saw Crape, the situation was bad, and first responders were at his home.
"He was real weak, and said he was in pain, and couldn't put his shoes on," said Harris. "I feel bad cause they wouldn't let me put his shoes on. I couldn't get close to him to put his shoes on. They were instructing me to leave. I could see he was in a lot of pain and needed help."
On Friday afternoon, Crape arrived at Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center complaining of shortness of breath. He had a 101-degree fever and chest pains. A chest X-ray showed he had pneumonia. Doctors tested him for COVID-19, and treated him for pneumonia. Sadly, less than eight hours later, he passed away.
"When he went to the hospital, I assumed he was coming home," said Harris. "I never thought he wasn't coming home. I missed my friend. I can't talk to him like I want to."
While dealing with the loss and grief, Harris said Tuesday he was concerned for his own health.
"I haven't had any symptoms, but I'm beginning to get worried," said Harris. "I went to two hospitals. They took my vitals and said I'm fine and need to self quarantine."
Stuck at home, trying to remain healthy, Harris said he wanted others to know about the severity of the coronavirus -- and remember his kind-hearted friend who succumbed to it.
"It's something serious," said Harris. "He was funny, easygoing. He cracks you up. Just a big, lovable teddy bear. He brought sunshine to the room. He saw happiness in the worst situations."
FOX6 News spoke with family members of Crape Tuesday, understandably struggling with the sudden loss. They released a statement, with Crape's twin brother saying, in part:
"These are trying times and adding to the difficulties was the passing of my twin brother Roderick Crape. He was a fun loving person that loved his family and friends."
"In his passing and knowing my brother he would want to say I love you, goodbye to everyone and I will be alright. Roderick said on various occasions if I am not afraid to live, I am not afraid to die. I love you RIH my brother you will be missed."
Crape died while waiting for his COVID-19 test results, and we're told he did have pre-existing medical conditions.
Other COVID-19 deaths in Wisconsin
The Milwaukee County medical examiner on Saturday, March 21 confirmed the second Milwaukee County death as a 69-year-old man who had been hospitalized since March 14. The man, identified by the medical examiner as Lenard Wells, was from out-of-state, but had strong ties to Milwaukee. FOX6 News learned Wells worked as a Milwaukee police lieutenant for many years, but retired before moving out of state. He died at Froedtert Hospital.
The previous three deaths included a 66-year-old Milwaukee County man (Lawrence Riley), a man in his 90s from Ozaukee County (Robert Blackbird), and a man in his 50s from Fond du Lac County.