OLDHAM COUNTY, Ky. (WAVE) – As Kentucky’s death toll from COVID-19 continues to grow, the families of those affected know that each number represents a loved one lost forever.
Gov. Andy Beshear reported 16 new deaths Wednesday raising Kentucky’s coronavirus casualties to more than 1,000. He also put a face to the figures with a tribute to EJ Mike, 58, of Louisville who died Tuesday.
“We spoke to a friend and read online messages from coworkers and love ones who called EJ an inspiration and an amazing person who always put others before himself,” he said.
David Mike tells WAVE 3 that his brother’s death was “heartbreaking” and unexpected.
“He was healthy, he had just gone to the doctor and was in good health. He was just a big strong powerful guy and this was the last thing we ever thought would take him down,” he said.
EJ Mike, a father of two, spent six weeks on a ventilator at Norton Brownsboro Hospital. His fight against COVID-19 finally ended after complications from high-risk lung surgery.
“The virus had really been in his lungs and just kind of taken over and had a thick cloud and did some irreparable damage,” David Mike said. “No one wants to believe it’s real until it hits in your own back yard, and we don’t want anyone to have to go through this, ever.”
EJ Mike worked as a physician assistant at UofL and the Louisville VA, leaving behind a legacy as one of the founding members of Oldham County EMS (OCEMS) almost 30 years ago.
In a Facebook post, OCEMS mourned his death.
“It’s like he was destined to go into the medical field and help people, I think it just started from a young age,” David Mike said.
EMS Director Keith Smith tells WAVE 3 that EJ Mike retired as a paramedic in 2014 but considered rejoining OCEMS part-time before he got sick.
“He was very good at what he did, he was one of the finest paramedics I ever had the opportunity to work with,” Smith said. “I’ve seen some of the car wrecks he basically risked his own life to go into. By every matter of the meaning, EJ Mike is a hero.”
EJ Mike’s family will hold a visitation from 1 to 7 p.m. Friday at St. Michael Orthodox Church in Louisville. A funeral service will begin at 7 p.m. Friday; the service will be live-streamed by the church. Read more information about the services here.