Wife of Cleveland firefighter says husband died a week after testing positive for Covid-19


CLEVELAND (WJW) – The widow of a Cleveland Fire lieutenant is heartbroken and devastated, saying her husband died a week after testing positive for COVID-19.

Lt. Rich Petras, 51, is the first city firefighter to die from COVID-19 complications.

“I knew my husband since I was 16, we met in high school,” said Jill Petras, Rich’s wife, and a teacher. The two were married for 27 years and have two daughters.

Those who worked with Petras  say he  helped  hundreds of people during his career, including  taking part in the rescue of   two children from a house fire in 2015.  He worked as a city firefighter for 26 years and loved his job.

“He was in good health,” Jill told Fox 8. “He started showing COVID-19 symptoms about a week ago and got tested. Then my daughter got tested, I got tested, and all three of us were positive. We were home and he was not very hungry, but he was eating and drinking.”

However, on Saturday morning his condition got worse.  

“His breathing did not sound right to me,” Jill said. “ I called 9-1-1 and they came and got him. Then we got called that he was in critical condition and they let us go into the ICU to say good bye to him. They said that he had a clot in his lungs which is a big problem with COVID-19  and that’s what killed him.”

 She said they don’t know how they got it, which is why she  wanted to speak out. She said she wants to urge others to follow the Ohio Department of Health’s  recommendations to help slow the spread of COVID-19. 

“He was a wonderful father and a wonderful husband and a good person for our community,” Jill said.  “We are going to miss him very much.”

The Association of Cleveland Fire Fighters Local 93,  shared the following link. Friends of the Petras family have organized a GoFund Me account to help with memorial and funeral arrangements. Fire Union officials said “Rich was here for us on many of our most difficult days; any and all support is greatly appreciated. Rest easy Brother, we will take it from here.”

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