CITRUS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – People who worked with 29-year-old Justin Berleth called him more than just a colleague. He was a member of the family.
Berleth was a Citrus County emergency medical technician who died after battling COVID-19.
The Nature Coast EMS announced the death of Berleth on Thursday. He passed away on Monday at Oak Hill Hospital.
Batallion Chief Justin Gibson knew him well.
“You become family,” said Gibson. “Especially in a county as close as this, it’s hard. Especially how busy we’ve been. And now losing one of our brothers is definitely eye-opening to all of us.”
According to Nature Coast EMS, the 29-year-old had been an EMT for the past three years and had recently completed paramedic training.
Batallion Chief Dan Brady says Berleth was the type of guy that could light up a room.
“The kind of guy that he brought up your day,” said Chief Brady. “No matter what was going on he was smiling. He was having a good time.”
Due to privacy laws and out of respect to his family, Nature Coast EMS is not revealing if Berleth had been vaccinated.
Brady says since his death, others in the community who haven’t been vaccinated are now considering that option.
“This is absolutely a wake-up call for citizens and for health care workers,” he said. “We’ve had several health care workers from our agency, nearby agencies, friends, family, other people who have reached out to Justin’s family and said I think we’re going to get vaccinated.”