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Father, son from Newaygo County survive near-death experience with COVID-19

Both were unvaccinated but said they plan on changing that now
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Posted at 9:04 PM, Feb 05, 2022

NEWAYGO COUNTY, Mich. — A father and son from Newaygo County are on the road to recovery now, but a recent battle with COVID-19 almost took both of their lives. They told us the experience has completely changed their outlook on the virus and the vaccine.

Shawn Copeman received a round of applause as he left Mary Free Bed Saturday, putting a smile on his face under the mask he was wearing. However, that major moment was far from a given just days ago when Shawn was at the hospital fighting for his life against COVID-19.

“I think I stayed one night and they came into my room and said that I had to make decisions — get on a ventilator or I probably wasn’t going to make it," Shawn told FOX 17.

The 55-year-old from Everett Township, just north of Big Rapids, was not alone. His son, 31-year-old Craig Copeman, was going through his own battle with COVID-19 in the room next door.

“I just remember getting sick, really sick, and having to go in," Craig said. "I don’t remember much after they put me under the vent and whatnot.”

Both of them were unvaccinated, unconscious and on ventilators for days. Lori, the mom of the family, was hoping for the best but was forced to consider the worst.

“I went over there and we started talking about estate planning and different things we had to go through if something happened to him," Lori said. "We didn’t know if [Shawn] was going to come out of it.”

The future for Shawn and Craig was up in the air. Days went by without a promising update. Lori called it "an emotional ride."

RELATED: US surpasses 900,000 COVID-19 deaths

In the meantime, friends and family rallied together, creating T-shirts that read "Team Copeman."

Then, one day, they both came to.

Craig said, “When I woke up and heard [my dad] was in there, it kind of made me nervous for him. I heard they pulled him off the vent the same time they pulled me off the vent, so that made me feel a little bit better.”

The pair eventually moved to Mary Free Bed to continue their recovery. Shawn went home Saturday; Craig leaves on Tuesday.

They don't remember much from this whole experience, but they do know it's given them a new perspective about the pandemic and, in particular, the vaccine.

“Being in the restoration business, you’re in mold and sewage and a number of things," Shawn said. "I always thought, ‘Well, I wouldn’t need to be vaccinated.’ I found different.”

Craig added, "I definitely am going to get my vaccination and definitely wear a mask around town. Take a whole different approach to it than I used to because I used to not do any of that.”

For anyone else on the fence, their advice was simple.

“Definitely get it," Craig told FOX 17, referring to the vaccine. "I would say that, if you don’t want to go through something like that, definitely get it."

READ MORE: CDC study: Vaccines, boosters effective in preventing severe omicron infection

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