Fully vaccinated Ontario man dies after COVID-19 sweeps through his hockey league

Published Oct. 28, 2021 4:58 p.m. ET

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A fully vaccinated Ontario man has died after a COVID-19 outbreak swept through his adult hockey league. 

Oro-Medonte father-of-three Garry Weston died last week after suffering a severe stroke while fighting pneumonia caused by COVID-19, his family says.

His daughter, Amber Weston-Campbell, said the 75-year-old contracted the disease in late September while playing in his three-on-three hockey league in Newmarket for the first time in 18 months.

There were 15 COVID-19 cases linked to the hockey league and all were breakthrough infections in fully vaccinated people, officials in York Region said. 

"My dad was an avid sports person," Weston-Campbell told CTV News Toronto on Thursday. "He's been waiting to go back and play because he just loved hockey."

A few days after playing, Weston-Campbell said her dad started to feel unwell. 

"It was like a cold, but it progressively got worse at home," she said. "He was struggling to breathe."

Weston was admitted to hospital but wasn’t getting any better. He was transferred to intensive care and not long after that was intubated. 

"As they were intubating him, he developed signs and symptoms of a stroke," Weston-Campbell, who is a registered nurse, said. "They discovered after he had a massive stroke. The doctor basically said to us he wouldn’t be able to come home. It was a grim diagnosis."

Weston-Campbell said the doctors told her the damage caused by the stroke was irreversible and he would have "no quality of life" if he managed to survive when taken off life support.

"It would have been so unfair of us to try and keep his physical shell of a body, which it would have been, when he would have hated every minute of it. He was far too active of a guy to live like that."

She said the family decided last week to switch off his life support. 

'They played his favourite Doris Day song and they said that was the only time he made movement. He squeezed my sister's hand."

Weston died in hospital on Oct. 21. 

"You would never meet a person who wasn't sure if they met Garry, because you knew it. You knew when you met Garry because he meant every hug, he meant every handshake and he meant every smile. He was a great guy."

Weston leaves behind his wife, three children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

'IT SPREAD LIKE WILDFIRE'

Weston lived with his spouse, youngest daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren. Everyone in the home tested positive for COVID-19, despite those above 12 years old being fully vaccinated. 

"It spread like wildfire. How did this happen?" Weston-Campbell said. "We're shocked." 

She said the family still believes in the efficacy of vaccinations and doesn’t want people to be paranoid. 

"We just want people to be vigilant," she said. "It's a very small number of people, but you never know when that number is going to be you."

According to Weston's best friend of 50 years, the other 14 people who tested positive in the hockey league had minor symptoms. 

Brian Dunn told CTV News Toronto he was sitting next to Weston at the hockey arena. He also tested positive for COVID-19, but had minor symptoms and has since recovered.

“How did we all get this transmitted to each other?" Dunn said. "We were all double-vaccinated, we went into the rink showing our proof of double vaccination, with our masks on."

The public health department said the arena was following all COVID-19 protocols, but the general manager says he wishes he was infomed of the cases sooner.

“Timing of everything was the confusing part for us," Andrew Shorkey, General Manager of National Training Rinks Newmarket said. "Only because the timelines of when they got sick versus when we were notified were very very spread apart. It would have been a lot easier to maybe manage or control if we had known 10 days prior to when we found out.”

"What more could we have done, except not played," Dunn said. "It’s a shock. How did this happen?"

"I'm completely pissed off and sad."


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