Unvaccinated Bride Spends Wedding Day on Ventilator, Dies Three Weeks Later From COVID-19

  • Bride-to-be Samantha Wendell, 29, died after struggling for weeks against a COVID-19 infection.
  • She had put off getting a vaccine, and spent her wedding day on a ventilator.
  • Her fiance and family are now using her story to encourage others to get vaccinated.

A Kentucky man who was meant to marry his fiancée last month is instead mourning her death after she struggled for weeks in the hospital with a COVID-19 infection.

Samantha Wendell, 29, spent her planned wedding day on a ventilator. She died on September 10.

Earlier this year, she and her husband-to-be, correctional sergeant Austin Eskew, planned their wedding for August 21 at a church in Lisle, Illinois, reported NBC News. Wendell’s funeral was held there instead last weekend.


The couple from Grand Rivers, Kentucky, wanted to start a family, which was why Wendell “kind of panicked” when she heard false claims about the COVID-19 vaccine causing infertility, Eskew told NBC.

Wendell, a surgical technician, wanted them to hold off getting vaccinated. However, when the Delta variant started ripping through the US, the pair changed their minds and booked vaccination appointments at the end of July, per NBC.

But it was too late. About a week before they were supposed to get their shots, Wendell fell sick after returning from a bachelorette party, reported FOX. She and Eskew both tested positive for COVID-19, and while Eskew suffered only a high fever and could rest at home, Wendell started getting worse.

She was admitted to hospital on August 9, Eskew told FOX. There, doctors found that her oxygen levels were dangerously low, and later diagnosed her with bilateral pneumonia.

Less than a week before their planned wedding date, Wendell was placed on a ventilator. Doctors initially told her family that she was expected to survive her fight against the virus, but on September 9, a CT scan revealed crushing news — she had irreversible scarring all over her lungs.

By that stage, “there was no chance of survival for her,” Eskew told FOX. Wendell was taken off life support the next day, and passed away shortly after.

“Misinformation killed her”

“She knew no strangers, everyone was her friend or they were going to be her friend,” Eskew told the outlet. “She loved her animals and she loved taking care of anyone’s animals.”

“She loved her job, absolutely loved her job. Any waking minute that she could learn something about it, she was on board with trying to do whatever she could for her job,” he continued.

The pair met in 2010 at college orientation at Olivet Nazarene University, a private Christian school, and dated for 10 years, according to their wedding website. 

“It was misinformation that killed her,” wrote Maria Vibrandor Hayes, Wendell’s cousin, in a Facebook post.

“We were supposed to see her walk down the aisle two weeks ago. She was supposed to be on her honeymoon. She was supposed to bring beautiful babies into this world,” the post read.

The unproven claim that COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility has been debunked numerous times by doctors, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the shots are safe for pregnant people, those who are breastfeeding, and those who are thinking about getting pregnant.

Wendell’s story has prompted others to get vaccinated, said Jeaneen Wendell, Samantha’s mother, in a comment on one of Vibrandor Hayes’ later posts.

“Her life meant something. Even if it was just a few who got vaccinated that means something,” wrote Jeaneen.

Austin Eskew and Samantha Wendell’s family did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.


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