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Burlington father, Illinois sheriff's deputy battling COVID-19 and leukemia dies

Posted at 8:40 PM, Apr 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-04 11:43:33-04

BURLINGTON — A Burlington father and Cook County Sheriff's Deputy in a battle to survive COVID-19 and cancer has died. Rich O'Brien had been on a ventilator for over 22 days. His family said he passed away from complications of the virus.

Rich O'Brien is battling COVID-19 and cancer
Rich O'Brien (right) and Cindi O'Brien (left) with their three children, Amy (second from left), Zach (middle), Katie (second from right).

Rich's family calls him their superman.

"He's a really strong guy, but he's a quiet guy," said his wife, Cindi O'Brien.

"He is strong. He's also a giant goofball. He has the weirdest style," said his daughter Amy O'Brien.

Rich lives in Burlington, and for 25 years, he has been driving to the Chicago-area to work as a deputy for the Cook County Sheriff's Office. Around Thanksgiving, the 53-year-old started feeling sick. Not long after that, he was diagnosed with leukemia. But his family said his prognosis was good.

"He's like, 'It's really not bad. It's stage one. I just have to see the doctor twice a month and then it will be done. And I will be here 20 more years to bug you and to bother you,'" said Amy O'Brien.

Rich's family say he was doing so well that when the coronavirus hit, his doctor told him he could keep working.

"His oncologists kept telling him it is okay, even if you get it you will beat it. And now it's not looking good," said Cindi O'Brien.

The sheriff's office said Rich was working as a deputy in the Skokie, Illinois civil process office. It's where his family says he got the coronavirus.

On April 5, Rich's wife took him to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with pneumonia and COVID-19. It was 22 days ago when Rich was put on a ventilator. It was the last time his wife heard his voice. Now she is not sure she will hear it again.

"He called me and said, 'I love you, and I promise I will come back,'" said Cindi O'Brien.

On top of having coronavirus and cancer, Rich has also gotten an infection. His wife said it happen just as doctors were close to taking him off the ventilator. Now, the family is working with the hospital so that she can see him in person.

The family has a donation page set up to help pay for his expenses.

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