Says they were expecting him in the US for daughters’ birthdays
Patrick Sawyer, 40, lived in Minnesota for a decade and was set to return to the U.S. to see his family in August. Sawyer died (penultimate) Friday after becoming ill on a flight to Nigeria from Liberia, leading to fears of the virus spreading through air travel.
Ebola victim Patrick Sawyer died of the deadly virus in Lagos, Nigeria, on July 25. His wife and children lived in Coon Rapids, Minn.
A Liberian government official who succumbed to the Ebola virus had family living in Minnesota and was set to return to the U.S. next month, his grieving kin said.
Patrick Sawyer died Friday after suffering extreme bouts of vomiting and diarrhea on a flight from Liberia to Nigeria, leading to fears he may have spread the virus to fellow passengers.
Health workers were scrambling to track down any passengers or flight crew who may have been in contact with the 40-year-old as he flew from Liberia to Ghana to Togo before arriving in Lagos, where he was quarantined and eventually died.
His wife, Decontee Sawyer, said her husband had planned to return to their Coon Rapids home in August to attend two of his three daughters’ birthdays, Minnesota’s KSTP-TV reported.
Decontee Sawyer, holding 1-year-old daughter Bella, said her husband was to return to the U.S. in a few weeks for two of their daughters’ birthdays.
The grieving widow said she hoped her husband’s death served as a wake-up call about the global threat of the virus, which has already killed more than 670 people in West Africa.
“It’s a global problem because Patrick could’ve easily come home with Ebola,” Decontee Sawyer told the station.
“It’s close, it’s at our front door. It knocked down my front door.”
Health experts said it was unlikely Sawyer infected others because Ebola spreads through body fluids such as urine, blood or saliva. Unlike the flu, it does not travel through the air.
So far, Nigerian authorities identified 59 people who came into contact with him, including airline employees and health workers, and tested 20 of them. None of them was positive, The Associated Press reported.
Still, the fact that he was able to board a plane while ill — coupled with the fact his sister recently died from Ebola — raised questions about passenger screening and the risk of the disease spreading through air travel, officials said.
‘It’s a global problem because Patrick could’ve easily come home with Ebola,’ Decontee Sawyer told local KSTP-TV.
Two other American aid workers in Liberia have fallen ill with the disease and were being cared for by doctors there.
Dr. Kent Brantly, 33, and his colleague Nancy Writebol spent months fighting Ebola in that country before becoming sick themselves.
Brantly’s wife and two young children lived with him in Liberia until recently, when they left to attend a wedding in the U.S.
They are now in Abilene, Tex., and were being monitored for signs of the disease, officials said.
Sawyer lived in Minnesota for about a decade before returning to Liberia in 2008 to work as a finance minister, KSTP-TV reported.
His wife said he was beloved in their local Liberian community. They planned to honor him with a memorial in September.
Brantly, a 33-year-old American doctor, has tested positive for the disease.
Decontee Sawyer said she was left cold by the thought of another family losing their loved one to the disease and hoped African health officials were doing all they can to fight the outbreak.
“I have three girls who will never get to know their father,” she told KSTP-TV.
“This can’t happen anymore,” she added. “I don’t want any more families going through”.
*Culled from Daily News