Nurse Working on Frontlines of Coronavirus Pandemic Found Dead in His Car: He Was 'a Loving Man'
"This is a very good kid," William Coddington's father said of him
William Coddington, a 32-year-old nurse who was working on the front lines of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, was found dead in his car on April 25 at a hotel parking lot in Deerfield Beach, Florida, according to his family.
Coddington had been treating coronavirus patients at the north campus of the JFK Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, when he passed away, Reuters reported.
His family and friends told the publication that the registered nurse — who previously struggled with addiction issues and sought treatment at a rehabilitation center more than a decade ago — had been rattled by the fatal COVID-19 cases in his intensive care unit and couldn't attend his 12-step recovery meetings due to the pandemic.
"He couldn’t meet with his sponsor,” his mother Carolyn said. “And his friends, nobody wanted to see him because he worked in a hospital, not even to sit 6 feet apart.”
Coddington became more quiet in his final weeks and would often retreat to his room when he came home from work, according to Carolyn, who said she feared her son would relapse amid the coronavirus crisis.
Coddington and his mother fought on the night of April 24, Reuters reported. Carolyn told the outlet that she and Coddington made up after the argument, though her son headed to a hotel to rest instead of staying at their shared home.
The next morning, Carolyn found Coddington dead in his car at the hotel parking lot. She had driven there after checking her son's phone location and saw that he was not at the hospital.
While Coddington's cause of death has not yet been released, his family suspect he passed away from an overdose, Reuters reported.
A spokesperson for the Broward County Office of Medical Examiner and Trauma Services told PEOPLE that cause and manner of death are still pending.
An investigation is still ongoing and detectives believe there is no foul play, a public information officer at the Broward County Sheriff’s Office said.
“Addiction is not a choice, and if you ever run across people who struggle, always be kind. Encourage them, love them, always have compassion not judgement,” Carolyn said during Coddington's virtual funeral on May 6, according to NBC Miami.
Coddington's father Ron told the Palm Beach Post on Wednesday that the family has not received an autopsy report, so it's unclear if his son was related to the coronavirus.
"This is a very good kid. A loving man," he said of Coddington. “But he had his demons.”
On April 13, Coddington shared on his Facebook that his hospital was "rationing" personal protective equipment and the staff was "running out of gowns."
"We are having people make makeshift face shields that end up snapping while in patients rooms," he wrote at the time. "This isn’t my hospitals fault, as I’ve heard this from fellow nurses in different hospital districts."
A spokesperson for JFK Medical Center told PEOPLE in a statement: "We are not able to discuss information regarding our colleagues. Our condolences go out to the family and loved ones of William during this difficult time."
The representative added that the hospital "has adequate supplies of PPE" and the medical center is "doing everything in our power to ensure we continue to have enough to protect our colleagues as they provide care to patients."
"We are following CDC protocols for the reuse of certain PPE and we are asking our colleagues to conserve these items by following, but not exceeding, the guidelines for infection prevention," the statement read. "Our goal since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has been to protect and support our frontline clinicians and caregivers so they are able to continue to care for our patients and community, and this includes mental health support. We offer phone and video call sessions with a licensed counselor for those seeking mental health services through the Beacon Wellbeing Program, a standard offering of our Employee Assistance Program."
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact the SAMHSA substance abuse helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.
The information in this story is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it's possible that some data have changed since publication. While Health is trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDC, WHO, and their local public health department as resources.
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