Young NJ Medic Succumbs to Coronavirus

April 10, 2020
Kevin Leiva, a 24-year-old EMT in Pompton Lakes, died from COVID-19 complications Tuesday, according to friends and state officials.

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A 24-year-old Pompton Lakes EMT died from complications with the coronavirus, friends and state officials said.

Kevin Leiva, an EMT in North Bergen and at Saint Clare’s Dover Hospital, died from complications with the coronavirus Tuesday, said Cesar Perez, an EMS supervisor in Passaic for Saint Clare’s. He leaves behind his wife Marina.

Leiva is the second EMT who worked at Saint Clare’s to have died from complications with the coronavirus. He died one week to the day after the death of Israel Tolentino Jr., a 33-year-old Passaic firefighter and EMT at Saint Clare’s.

Leiva was remembered as smart, positive and selfless, who lived to help others through being an EMT.

“We did everything together,” said Kara Connolly, his partner for two years at Saint Clare’s. “We became really close. I talked to him every single day. He’s so selfless. He did everything for anybody.”

At Thursday’s press briefing, Gov. Phil Murphy honored the young EMT, thanking him for his years helping others.

“Kevin was only 24 years old," said Murphy. “Bless him. We thank him for his service. For an extraordinary lifetime. For his service to this state.”

Perez, Leiva and Leiva’s best friend Franklin Pachay all started at Monmouth Ocean Hospital Service Corporation (MONOC) at the same time, meeting at their orientation. Although Leiva was a dedicated, diligent EMT, eventually becoming an EMT supervisor for Saint Clare’s, his friends would tease him for nodding off during orientation videos.

“We used to crack on him because he used to fall asleep during the videos,” recalled Perez. “He was great and he’s going to be missed.”

When it came to work itself, Leiva was serious, said Perez. But at work, Leiva was never without a snappy comeback, he said.

“He was always known as super funny and positive and hard-working,” said Connolly. When Saint Clare’s was awarded the contract to provide emergency medical services for Passaic, both Connolly and Leiva applied. The two became partners, talking every day and becoming good friends.

Eventually, both became EMS supervisors at Saint Clare’s.

A candlelight vigil was planned for Friday from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. to honor Leiva at the Passaic EMS headquarters on Grove Street.


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