A Louisiana police officer has left a community in mourning after he died of COVID-19 just one day before his wedding.
Baker Police Lieutenant Demarcus Dunn died on Aug. 13, according to a Facebook post from Baker Police Chief Carl Dunn, who is also Demarcus’ cousin.
“We have lost our teddy bear, Lieutenant Demarcus Dunn,” Carl wrote in the post. “To me, he was just a big teddy bear, full of love for everyone he met… I have to thank our God for blessing us with Demarcus.”
Speaking to ABC News, Carl said Demarcus, 36, died just one day before he was set to marry his fiancée. The pair had initially planned to tie the knot in July 2020 but were forced to postpone their nuptials amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the outlet reported.
“She’s lost without him,” Carl told ABC News of Demarcus’ fiancée.
Carl noted that Demarcus — who was a father to three children, ages 1, 5 and 13 — was unvaccinated.
“It was disturbing to me that he hadn’t gotten it [the COVID-19 vaccine] and I didn’t know for sure he hadn’t gotten it ’til it was all over with,” Carl explained.
Demarcus’ battle with COVID-19 first began on July 29 when he notified Carl that he had tested positive for the virus, according to ABC News.
Carl told the outlet that his cousin’s symptoms included a headache, cough and difficulty breathing, but despite that, “he always sounded upbeat” when they chatted each day.
“Even the day that he went on the ventilator, I talked to him that morning, and he told me that he wasn’t feeling bad,” Carl explained to ABC News, adding that Demarcus never disclosed why he didn’t get the vaccine and that it was not a requirement for the police department.
Things took a turn for the worst when Demarcus was hooked up to a ventilator on Aug. 10. Sadly, he never came off it and died just three days later, ABC News reported.
“I know he was a fighter and strong-willed,” Carl told the outlet. “I just kept telling myself he was going to make it and I kept assuring the family that I knew he was going to make it.”
In the wake of his passing, Carl is finding comfort in all the memories he — and the rest of the Baker community — had with Demarcus.
In his Facebook post, Carl noted how his cousin spent the majority of his free time coaching local children and serving as a mentor.
“I asked him how could he take all of his off time and spend it coaching kids,” Carl wrote. “I said, ‘Demarcus you have a family. How can you coach Pee Wee Football, Pee Wee Basketball, Little League Baseball (2 Teams) and also mentor so many young kids?'”
“He answered by informing me that he lost his father while he was an infant and the only daddies he knew were coaches,” Carl continued. “He went on to inform me that the coaches really changed the projection of his life and he wanted to do the same for other children. I was very impressed.”
In addition to coaching, Demarcus was an Air Force veteran, a beloved member of the community and a loving father to his three children, ABC News reported.
“We lost a wonderful person and a wonderful community servant. He had a sense of being responsible,” Carl shared with the outlet. “He wanted to be the one to make a positive change.”
Baker Mayor Darnell Waites addressed the death in a statement to ABC News, saying, “My heart is heavy since learning of the passing of Demarcus Dunn. He was a father, husband, soldier, mentor, friend and veteran Baker police officer — a man loved by all. His life spent dedicated in service to others was a shining example for our community.”
Visiting hours and a funeral service were held for Demarcus on Friday in Baker, according to a Facebook post from the Baker Police Department. The department later led a police procession from the funeral to the cemetery, where Demarcus was laid to rest.
Get vaccinated, love muffins.