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Dallas firefighter dies of COVID-19, first pandemic death for Dallas-Fire Rescue

David Leos recently hit his 40th year with Dallas-Fire Rescue. The landmark came while he was hospitalized.

DALLAS, Texas — Updated at 1:20 p.m. Thursday with the firefighter's death.

A Dallas firefighter who gave more than 40 years of his life to the department has died after complications with COVID-19, Dallas Fire-Rescue members said Thursday.

He died at 12 p.m. Thursday, and it was Dallas Fire-Rescue's first coronavirus-related death. 

The firefighter, 62-year-old David Leos, was diagnosed with COVID-19 on July 17 and remained hospitalized for over two months.

The diagnosis came two days after his birthday. 

Family members told WFAA that Leos was put on a ventilator roughly four weeks ago and were told by doctors Wednesday that Leos' kidneys were failing and that the damage done to his body was beyond reversible. 

"We've all been coming in to say our goodbyes," his sister-in-law Jeane Leos said. "It just isn't fair. This disease can take someone from a family so unexpectedly."

Per Leos family, the 62-year-old was expected to pass Thursday. 

Leos is one of the longest-serving Latino members of Dallas-Fire Rescue, per the department. 

His brother, Marty Leos, is also a firefighter. Both were inseparable, Jeane Leos told WFAA. 

Credit: Leos Family
David Leos (left) poses for a photo with his brother Marty.

"They loved to fish together and recently worked out of the same station," Jeane Leos said. "We've just been trying to be there for his wife and be strong for her." 

Leos' wife, Darlene, has been visiting her husband for weeks. According to the family, Leos was unvaccinated. He was also a cancer survivor. 

The City of Dallas is now offering more time off for employees who get their shots. 

Since the pandemic began, 650 firefighters with Dallas-Fire Rescue have tested positive for COVID-19.

One of the last things Leos told his wife, per the family, was an apology for not getting vaccinated. 

"He said he was sorry he never got vaccinated, right before he was put on the ventilator," Jeane Leos said. 

Firefighters from the department gathered for a small vigil outside of Parkland Hospital, where Leos has been since July. 

Leos' room was visible near the top floor, with a large "DFR" sign hanging in the window. 

Prayers were said, candles were lit, and memories were shared. The gathering wasn't just a goodbye; it was also a salute. 

Leos' 40th landmark passed while he was hospitalized. His brothers never got to congratulate him. 

"This has been the best family for us. They're not a second family, they're family...and they show up when we need them to," Jeane Leos said.