Family of 29-year-old firefighter who died of COVID asks community to take the virus seriously

Updated: Feb. 15, 2021 at 3:07 PM EST
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ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) -A 29-year-old firefighter who worked for departments in Iredell and Rowan Counties died from COVID-19 last week. Now his family at home and in the fire service have a message they want the community to hear.

They spoke very candidly about taking COVID seriously. They say their hope is that their experience will save another family from having to go through the pain they have endured for the last five weeks.

“When I found out I was positive, I texted him and told him, he said it’s okay mom, don’t worry about it,” said mother Cindy Bregoli. “He said I’m going to be okay mom, don’t worry about it.”

For as long as anyone can remember, Andrew Bley was all about the fire service.

“He grew up around the fire service,” said Bley’s stepfather David Bregoli. “When he was about two weeks old he was in a firetruck just hanging round.”

The Lake Norman High School graduate was living his dream, working first in Mount Mourne, and then for the Atwell Volunteer Department in Rowan County. But that dream came to a sudden end with a COVID-19 diagnosis that quickly claimed the life of the young man who “always had a smile.”

“Even when he went into the hospital that Saturday morning it wasn’t a huge concern that it would turn out this way,” Bregoli added. “We still had hope.”

If his family has one regret, it’s this…

“We didn’t take it seriously,” David Bregoli said, “we thought it was just another common cold.”

But Andrew ended up in the hospital, and after about two weeks it became evident that he might not recover.

“As each day progressed, he got worse and worse and we ultimately lost him,” his stepfather said.

“For us, it doesn’t matter how it happened, but we mourn the loss of a firefighter,” said Frank Green, the chaplain for the Atwell Volunteer Fire Department. “We know that Andrew is with us in spirit and we know that he’s in a better place and he’s healed, we’re thankful for that.”

For his fire service family as well as his family at home, it’s now about conveying a message, and hoping that message will save lives.

“This is not just an older person’s disease, the younger folks can get this,” Green said. “Our message to him will be simple. Rest easy brother, we got this.”

“Please take COVID seriously. If you have any signs of it please get checked out because you never know,” said Andrew’s mother Cindy.

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