Balch Springs

‘Everybody Take This Disease Seriously' Family of Man Who Died This Week of COVID-19 Has Message for North Texas

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It’s a juxtaposition of optimism and heartbreak. As the state prepares to reopen, one family is mourning the loss of a loved one due to COVID-19.

Danny Echols, also known as “Uncle Danny,” was said to be kind and gentle and well-loved, most of all by his niece.

“Everyone in the neighborhood knew him,” said Teresa Durham-Daniels. “I’ve never left his side.”

It’s that tight bond that made it so hard to grasp that she never said goodbye.

“I would have loved to have been there just for him to hear my voice or just for him to feel my hands to know that he had somebody there,” she said.

Echols was born without ears. At 65, he was nonverbal and never learned sign language. But his family knew him well enough to know exactly what he wanted and needed.

“He was very loud because he didn’t know if you heard him or not,” said Durham-Daniels. “He had his own language.”

Echols was in a nursing home in Balch Springs when he became sick and was taken to a hospital in Dallas County. Durham-Daniels said her uncle was tested for COVID-19 and the results came back negative. He was taken back to the nursing home where his family saw him for the last time.

“We had to go and look at him through the window,” she said

A week later Echols was back in the hospital and his family said that time he tested positive. It was peculiar to them.

“He left the hospital negative. He went back to the nursing home. Went back to the hospital and tested positive,” said his nephew James Durham. “It’s not like he made a stop at McDonald’s.”

On Tuesday morning, when Dallas County reported its highest number of COVID-related deaths, Echols died. His last moments were without familiar faces.

“For him to open up his eyes and not know where he was or not know where we were is a frightening situation,” said Durham-Daniels.

And now, with two elderly parents still here to look after, the thought of reopening businesses is scary.

“Everybody take this disease seriously,” said James Durham. “For me it’s definitely too soon.”

As for their uncle, had they been there during his final moments, they would have provided words of comfort and joy.

“I would let him know we just drafted a bad receiver,” said Durham, referring to the Dallas Cowboys. “I’d make sure he knew his number 88 jersey is taken care of.”

“I would have wanted him to know that 'Resie Baby' his niece, his girl, I’m there for you,” said Durham-Daniels. “To just be able to rub his arm, even if he couldn’t hear a word I said.”

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