A 32-year-old Florida nurse working on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic at a hospital in West Palm Beach was found dead in his car from a possible overdose on April 25. William Coddington was already fighting addiction and was overwhelmed by the suffering he saw each day during the pandemic while working at the COVID-19 ward at JFK Medical Center. His father, Rod Coddington, said his son's death was a "collision of the drug epidemic and the pandemic."
Coddington had only been working at the hospital for three months, following stints at other hospital branches. It was the first time he worked in Palm Beach County and was assigned to respiratory intensive care, his father told the Palm Beach Post. "That put him in the corona ward," Ron said. "He was scared... He was scared about going in. But he didn't hesitate going in."
Coddington often feared contracting the virus himself and wrote on Facebook about the lack of personal protective equipment available at the time. One time, his face shield fell off and he was splashed with a substance. There were also "code blue" emergencies and he forgot his face shield, Ron said. At one point, Coddington quarantined himself for two weeks because he had a fever. Ron said his son tested negative for the virus before his death. However, the autopsy report has not been completed, so Ron said he is not sure if Coddington had it when he died.
"It was the stress of seeing people hurting, people dying," Ron told the Post. "None of his friends were close to him. Think about it. I wouldn’t want to be close to somebody working in a COVID ward." According to Ron, what complicated the situation more for Coddington was that he could not speak with his sponsors in person.
Coddington became addicted to opiates after part of his shinbone was removed, Ron explained. He spent time at a rehab center in West Palm Beach, then relapsed. He then checked into an addiction enter in Broward. Ron called his son a "very good kid" and a "loving man" who "had his demons."
The Broward Country Sheriff's Office is investigating Coddington's death, although they do not suspect foul play. Police told Ron they have a video of Coddington in his car in a hotel parking lot, with another vehicle close by and possibly in the middle of an exchange. Coddington's mother tracked him down using a cellphone app and found him inside the car.0comments
"Do I think he wanted to die that night? 100% no," Robert Marks, who spoke with Coddington just hours before his death, told Reuters. "I would bet every dollar I have that it was in an effort to have some relief." Marks described his friend as a "character all on his own."
On May 6, Coddington's friends and family gathered for a virtual funeral, which lasted almost two hours. "Addiction is not a choice, and if you ever run across people who struggle, always be kind," his mother said, reports NBC Miami. "Encourage them, love them, always have compassion not judgment."