'He's dying': A teen called 911 for her dad with COVID and watched her life turn upside down

Mallory Dunlap believed her father was improving.
He had felt sick earlier in the week on Tuesday, November 11. Julie Wallace, her mother, had a constant worry face and Mallory (17) was also worried. Camille tried to conceal it from Mallory. Everyone in the house suddenly wore masks, and Mallory was told to keep the girls away from her father, who was being quarantined upstairs.

Mallory felt a little relieved by Saturday. Her voice was lightened. Her smile was sometimes lightened and her face relaxed. Mallory felt relieved too.

Mallory was not too concerned when her parents left for urgent care. Their mother insisted that he leave, and he did. Mallory stayed with Camille while her father walked alone to the car.

What could be more sick than he?

"It was all on line"

Lewis Dunlap was a strong and large man. He was 51 years old, 6'3" tall and weighed 280 pounds. His laugh was a testament to his power and might. His job was not easy. He owned a garage in Elyria in Ohio that he ran for 74 years. It fixed semis. During the pandemic, he was busier than ever. He was the one who kept trucks moving.

Devastating: How is life for Julie, Mallory, and Camille right now?

Mallorys softball coach Lewis for eight years. Lewis was her man since she was born. Julie says that fatherhood was his calling. He was 100% in the family from the moment Lew learned I was pregnant. He was an insane father from the moment Mallory was born until we returned home.

Lewis was firm in his belief that school should come first. But he was also a fun father. He enjoyed surprising the girls with day passes at Cedar Point amusement park and coaching them in softball skills for hours in their backyard. He was always there to support me. When I was six- or seven years old, he asked me if I wanted to go on a trip to Disney World. This was the moment I knew I had to go. Next week, we flew on a plane.

Continue the story

And this is the story: She once had really terrible menstrual cramps while at school. She first texted her mom.

My mom's message was simple: Tough it out.

She then texted her father.

His reply: I'm on my way.

Yes, Mallory, nodding. I was a Daddy's girl.

CONNIE SHULTZ: Continue reading her columns

Mallory's softball travel team was coached by Lewis Dunlap for eight years. Camille, a younger daughter, also plays.

Julie claims that Lewis was always a germaphobe. He did all he could to protect his family from the pandemic. He was afraid of what would happen if he got COVID.

Mallory claims that my senior year in high school was the most difficult year of my entire life. Everyone was careful to avoid COVID. My education, my dad's work, and his dream to take over the family business were all at stake. He installed plexiglass to keep customers from coming in contact with him. If anyone felt unwell, they had to be away from the office and have their symptoms checked. The precautions worked for ten months.

Lewis Dunlap, who was only weeks away from receiving the vaccine he wanted so badly, became sloppy and contracted COVID.

Doctor: We need to fill the hospital beds with unvaccinated COVID-19 patients.

The symptoms began on Tuesday. Lewis was immediately quarantined in his bedroom and became so concerned about spreading the virus to his loved ones, he asked Julie for a cardboard cover to protect the room's air return vent. Lewis' only companion was Waldo, their Boxer.

Mallory believed that her father had beaten the virus by Saturday.

It was also true on the Sunday of Nov. 29, 2020. She came in at 4:30 p.m. after she had stepped outside.

She was crying as she ran down the stairs with her sister.

Waldo ran around the house confused and barking, sprinting.

Her mother was screaming in her bedroom. Call 9-1-1 Call 9-1-1

How to measure the father's worth

Lewis Dunlap and Julie Wallace had been friends since high school. However, they did not fall in love until many years later when they were playing on a coed softball team. She worked as a journalist at the local newspaper. He worked in the garage his family owned.

His gruff exterior didn't fool Julie. She says he would burst into a big, glorious laugh. He was big and soft, despite his size.

Lewis Dunlap and Julie Wallace talked many times per day, regardless of how busy they were at their jobs. She said that I had told him everything and we discussed every decision.

They bought a house in 2002. Mallory was born the next year. Seven years later, Camille was born to them.

Lewis wanted his girls to be able to play the sport he loved. He coached Mallory's travel softball team for eight years. Camille joined the team almost every day in their backyard practices as soon as she could throw a ball. Mallory, Mallory's mother, would love you to know that she is a great hitter. This was what she told me on Zoom from Camille's practice.

Lewis and Julie talked many times per day, regardless of how busy they were at their jobs. He was my person. She wrote an email to me. He was my person, I told everything to him and we discussed every decision.

He also tried to find out more about her world. He was very proud of his interest in politics. He taped every Sunday morning news show to get familiar with the issues. Then he started reading my electronic Washington Post. He was eager to learn about current affairs. We would have some intense political discussions here with Lew, Mal, and myself. None of us are on the same page about everything. I can't believe how wonderful those evenings were when I look back.

Lewis believed that a father's worth was determined by his ability to understand the longings and desires of his children. Lewis and Mallory spent hours discussing where Mallory should go college and which schools had the best softball programs as Mallory grew closer to graduation.

USA TODAY Opinion: Sign up for our newsletter to get more analysis and insight

Lewis Dunlap was the eight-year coach of Mallory's softball squad for Mallory.

She says that my father was my coach throughout my entire life, with the exception of one season. They had to make this decision together.

Mallory was at another college for a variety of reasons, but the most tragic one involved what a teammate said after Mallory had shared that her father had died from COVID.

Let's get started.

"We couldn't make it happen"

Lewis agreed to go to an urgent care on Saturday, Nov. 28. He was given a COVID and instructed to take Mucinex. His phone rang around 4:30 p.m. Sunday with a text message alert. It was confirmed that he had been positive.

On Sunday, any relief Julie felt on Saturday was lost. Lewis' complexion was different and he looked weaker. He agreed to return to urgent care at her request. He was dressed and she was trying to tie his shoes. She suddenly felt him lean against her back.

Lew, she said that you couldn't breathe on her.

He fell on her back.

She says he was gone. She screamed for Mallory, to call 9-1-1.

Mallory said that I saw my father become blue in front of my eyes. I am crying and screaming into the phone that He is dying. He's in pain! The dispatcher continued to tell him that help was on the way.

Julie knew that Lewis had to be on her back. Mallory and Julie pushed the bed against the wall, making room for Lewis. They then pulled his legs down to bring him to the ground.

Mallory reports that we finally managed to get him on his back. We were given instructions by the dispatcher. I performed chest compressions, and Mom did mouth to mouth resuscitation.

Julie gave Mallory chest compressions when they heard the sirens. Mallory was able to run downstairs to unlock the door and direct Mallory upstairs.

Mallory's memories are a collection of moments from that point on. As firefighters prepare to enter a COVID-equipped house, I watched. Watching firefighters prepare to enter a house with COVID.

Julie Wallace, Lewis Dunlap, and their daughters Mallory, Camille, and Camille.

She recalls the doctor at the hospital telling her, "We couldn't do anything." As she walked through the hospital corridors, nurses stared at her unkindly. Her boyfriend and his parents arrived at the hospital. As her mother tried to keep her away, her uncle held her and her sister close. Julie had put her lips on Lewis' mouth while she was performing CPR. She had to quarantine her daughters from them when they were most in need. It is a miracle that Julie didn't get COVID.

Mallory still remembers Waldo. Fast two weeks after her father's death, Mallory recalled that the boxer waited outside Lewis' bedroom door to allow him in.

"I try to not cry in front of them."

Camille glanced up at her sister soon after Lewis's death and asked, "Who will take me to softball practice?"

Mallory said that my role was changed overnight.

Mallory worked in a restaurant for the past three years to earn spending money. She now works to keep her family afloat. (After her father's death, the garage that her father owned was closed. It lasted for nearly three quarters century.

Every time I spoke about college, I could see the worry on my mother's face. My father's life insurance covers it right now. However, I don't know what I will do if it runs out.

From her John Carroll University dorm, she was speaking to me via Zoom. After she ended her college softball plans and withdrew her commitment, she decided to move to this location.

No masks No masks Parents don't like the circus of going back to school, as COVID cases rise

It was made in stages. Her father had supported her in choosing a school, but she was struggling to find the right school for her. Their adventure was about to begin, Lewis being in her peripheral vision while she played. He was gone and they were now able to share their dream together.

She attempted to find a way. She joined an online chat to meet her future team members. She said that most of the people were great, but one seemed determined to taunt her.

Mallory claims that COVID isn't real. She knew my Dad had passed away and said that I was spreading misinformation.

Although her teammates were supportive, it made it easier for her to decide to leave. It is hard to believe that anyone can do this after losing someone to COVID.

Mallory Dunlap describes herself as a daddy’s girl and decorated her high school graduation cap in tribute to Lewis. He died from COVID.

Mallory is known for smiling even when she recounts the worst moments in her life. Perhaps this is a part of her automatic politeness, which she uses to try to make others feel better.

Many students at John Carroll don't know Mallorys father was a COVID victim. They don't know because I don't want to be the girl everyone hates. In high school, I was that girl. It is a pity that I don't like Im sorry. My father died. It was a terrible thing.

What do you want her to say when she finds out that her father is dead?

Her smiled vanishes. They should ask me, "How did your dad die?" It was not his fault. My father was a man who protected others. He did all he could to keep his family safe. My dad was infected by a stranger. He's now gone.

Mallory worries about her sister and mother. She says that Lewis' absence is becoming more apparent, but it is her job to remain positive. They will cry if I cry, so I try to not cry. I wonder how often she does that.

She says it all the time. It's a way to remember him.

You can smile again.

USA TODAY columnist Connie Schultz won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel The Daughters of Erietown. It is now a New York Times bestseller. You can reach her at CSchultz@usatoday.com or on Twitter: @ConnieSchultz

Diverse opinions can be found on our Opinion front page, Twitter @usatodayopinion, and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, submit a comment to letters@usatoday.com.

This article first appeared on USA TODAY. After COVID Death: The grief loved one feels is life-changing