Cook County Deputy Richard O'Brien locked in 'brutal' battle with coronavirus

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Cook County Sheriff's Deputy Richard O'Brien's battle with coronavirus can be summed up in one word: brutal.

"I haven't heard his voice in 20 days," said his wife Cindi O'Brien.

RELATED: Latest news and updates on Illinois coronavirus cases, Chicago area impact

The last time Cindi spoke to her husband was right before he was put on a ventilator.

"He called and He said 'I love you, and I promise I'll come back to you,'" she recalled.

The 53-year-old was already fighting heart problems and stage one leukemia when he came down with COVID-19.

"He was really tired and really cold," said his daughter Amy O'Brien. "We just thought it was the side effects of the chemo."

But it was COVID-19. Since he's been on ventilation, the family is left with just a daily FaceTime call with the help of nurses, even though he's not conscious. Between calls they flip through old photos for a reason to smile.

"He can't talk or anything, but we play him his favorite songs and we tell him how much we love him," Amy said.

O'Brien's served the Cook County Sheriff's Department for more than 25 years, most recently in the Skokie courthouse. That courthouse is where his family believes he contracted the coronavirus.

"I actually asked him not to go to work, and he just couldn't not," Cindi said. "He's like, 'I can't let leukemia win.'"

Now his family is hoping it's the virus that won't win, and that the guy they call "Superman" will be around to celebrate his 25th anniversary with his wife.

"He has to come home to dance with me," Cindi said.

The Cook County Sheriff's Office released a statement saying in part, "Deputy O'Brein is known among his colleagues as highly motivated, dedicated professional...The Sheriff's Office is in daily contact with the family and will continue to provide any support they may need during this difficult time. We pray for Richard's full recovery and strength for the family."
Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.