Rep. Ron Wright Is 1st Member Of Congress To Die After COVID Diagnosis

Rep. Ron Wright (R-TX)
Rep. Ron Wright (R-TX)
Rep. Ron Wright (R-TX)

Rep. Ron Wright (R-TX) became the first member of Congress to die from COVID-19.

He died Sunday night at the age of 67. His family and spokesperson confirmed Wright’s death Monday morning. Wright had been battling cancer.

From the Dallas Morning News:

According to the statement, Wright had been keeping a vigorous work scheduled before contracting the virus. Two weeks ago Wright and his wife, Susan, were admitted to Baylor hospital in Dallas because of COVID-19 side effects.

Wright announced on Jan. 21 that he had tested positive “after coming in contact with an individual with the virus last week.” He had been in quarantine since Jan. 15 and said he would remain in quarantine until doctors cleared him to return to work.

While Wright is the first member of Congress to die from coronavirus-related causes, Rep.-elect Luke Letlow (R-LA) died last December while battling the virus, before he could be sworn into office. Letlow was 41 years old.

Insurance Company Denies Benefits To Family Of Sheriff’s Deputy After COVID-19 Death

L-R Deputy Shannon Bennett his fiancé, Jonathan Frey

The family of Shannon Bennett, the gay Broward Sheriff’s deputy who died from COVID-19 in April, has been denied insurance benefits covering his death. A 12-year veteran deputy, Bennett became the first South Florida first responder to be killed by COVID-19.

Insurance giant AIG denied the family’s claim for accidental death in the line of duty last month. 

According to Local10News, Bennett’s family received a letter from AIG saying the company had reviewed the claim and determined Bennett’s death didn’t occur in the line of duty. AIG’s position, according to the letter, is that Bennett’s “death was caused in whole or in part by, or resulted in whole or in part from sickness or disease, which is specifically excluded under this policy.”

Shannon’s brother, Darren Bennett told Local 10 News, “Essentially, while my family is grappling with trying to get our bearings back, this type of letter comes in and, of course, it floors us.”

The Broward County Sherriff’s Office sent an appeal on behalf of the family as the BSO believes Bennett, who was 39-years-old, contracted COVID-19 while on duty. That appeal was denied a couple of weeks later. 

AIG acknowledged that Bennett did likely contract the virus while in the line of duty, but held firm on the decision not to deny his benefits.

Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony released a statement which read in part:

“One of the most difficult tragedies to endure in this profession is a line of duty death. We are committed to helping the Bennett family. We pay thousands of dollars each year for this insurance, and I’m extremely disappointed that AIG is denying this claim. We will exhaust all appeals.”

Bennett was engaged and planned to marry his fiancé, Jonathan Frey, in December.

The fight over Bennett’s insurance benefits is just the latest chapter in a series of ugliness surrounding his death. 

NBC News reports that Dale Engle,  the South Florida police chief who came under fire in April for a homophobic rant referencing Bennett, has tendered his resignation after officers brought the incident up to the Florida police union.

According to several deputies in attendance, Engle ordered his employees to line up in formation in a department parking lot and began to berate officers who raised concerns about coronavirus protocol. 

During the rant, Engle referenced Bennett’s death telling the officers Bennett died because he was “a homosexual who attended homosexual events.” 

He was placed on administrative leave, and this week Engle resigned over the incident.


COVID-19 Now The Leading Cause Of Death In U.S.

Donald Trump during White House press conference (public domain)

Newsweek reports that COVID-19, once dubbed a “Democratic hoax” by Donald Trump, is now the leading cause of death in the U.S.

According to a graph published Tuesday by Dr. Maria Danilychev, who practices in San Diego, COVID-19 is the cause of 1,970 deaths in the U.S. per day.

Just last week, COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death, averaging around 748 deaths per day, but as the virus has continued to spread, the increase in daily deaths have followed.

In comparison to COVID-19 fatalities, 1,774 deaths are attributed to heart disease and 1,641 to cancer.

Thanks to social distancing, projections regarding anticipated deaths in the U.S. have recently been adjusted downward to 60,415  in a model produced by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle (IHME). Initial projections from the White House Coronavirus Task Force were between 100,000 and 240,000 U.S. deaths.

But, it’s important to remember all of these projections – and the actual number of deaths – will remain fluid depending in great part on the behavior of the American people over the next few months.

Miami Winter Party Attendee Dies Due To COVID-19

Israel Carreras (image via Facebook)

From WSVN in Miami:

Miami-Dade County has reported its first two coronavirus-related deaths, and one of them has been identified as a 40-year-old man with no prior health issues or complications, according to family members.

Israel Carreras was identified as the first death in Miami-Dade, Friday. Later that evening, a 79-year-old man was reported as the county’s second death.

Carreras succumbed to the virus after his friends said he contracted it during the Winter Party Festival in Miami, where several other cases of the virus had appeared.

Carreras’s partner, Franco Conquista, told WSVN he stayed with Carreras at his home, taking care of him for two days, as he also had been infected.

Conquista says Carreras eventually found it difficult to breathe so he went to the hospital. But after four or five days the doctors put him in an induced coma because he was really agitated. The sleep state keeps patients who might be anxious about breathing from removing a respirator out of panic.

Carreras never regained consciousness.

The 40-year-old Cuban native had lived in South Florida for several years, and friends described him as a hard worker who often clocked in around 14 hours per day at a warehouse. He also drove as an Uber driver in order to save money to send to his family in Cuba each month.

As Conquista is still self-isolating himself, he wants people to know “this is serious.”

“They need to stay at home,” he told the news station. “It doesn’t just kill old people. This poor boy had only 40 years old. It can kill anybody, so just stay home and think of other people. Try to save other people’s lives. Just because you are not affected directly doesn’t mean that people are not suffering from this.”

Silicone Injections Into Genitals Causes Death Of 28-Year-Old Gay Man

Dylan Hafertepen (L) and Jack Chapman (R)

A gay man in Seattle, Washington, has died due to health complications related to injecting his genitals with liquid silicone.

Gay Star News reports that Jack Chapman, who is known on various social media platforms as Tank Heathcliff Hafertepen), died on October 15.

Among the causes of death listed on the death certificate was ‘Silicon Injection Syndrome.’ Three other causes of death, all lung related, were also listed.

Chapman was apparently in a pup/master BDSM relationship with Dylan Hafertepen, who goes by the pseudonym ‘noodlesandbeef’ on social media.

BDSM relationships can include some forms of role-play that include dominance, bondage, and/or submission.

According to Gay Star News, Chapman lived with “Hafertepen, Hafertepen’s husband, and three other men whom Hafertenpen has relationships.”

Dylan Hafertepen (L) and Jack Chapman (R)

Chapman had previously shared on his Tumblr account his use of silicone injections into his penis and scrotum.

The National Institutes of Health reports penile enhancement procedures with liquid silicone by non-medical personnel could result in devastating consequences including gross distortion’ and ‘sexual dysfunction.’

Silicone injections can also result in an ‘immunological response.’

A case study in the National Library of Medicine noted, “There is no reliable material as filler for penile soft tissue. Because of their composition and biochemical characteristics, they may act as a foreign body in the tissue, eliciting severe allergic reactions.”

Since Chapman’s death, social media followers have posted screen captures of his Tumblr account where he had shared his use of liquid silicone.

In one post, Chapman wrote, “What’s my secret? Since November 2014, I’ve been having liquid silicone injected into my penis and scrotum under the supervision of a healthcare professional, who has high amount of experience performing this procedure.”

When asked for details of his treatment, he shared, “I have a guy in Sacramento who is a champ.”

(image via Twitter)

“The reason I shared this detail about myself was because I believe I owed it to the intelligence of my readers,” he added. “I am noticeably bigger, and will continue [to] get bigger into the future – a cursory glance to my readers by misleading them or pretending that nothing has happened when it obviously had.”

‘It’s a part of me. It’s a part of my story and I’m happy to talk about it,” said the 28-year-old originally from Australia.

“This procedure can have major health risks if done incorrectly,” wrote Chapman in a post that now seems prophetic. “It is an unregulated and unapproved body modification.”

He also refused to share specific information about where to turn to for similar treatment.

In the aftermath of his death, Chapman’s Instagram and Tumblr accounts have been deleted.

A post on his Facebook page, dated October 16, mentions a ‘persistent cough’ that eventually led to further complications.

Tank had a persistent cough for several months. Otherwise, he seemed fine, doing the things he loved — working out, caring for clients as part of Lifelong AIDS Alliance, and spending time with his family. Until a week ago when he had trouble breathing and was admitted to the hospital with what we figured was a routine infection. It turned out to be much more. He fought very hard, seeming to get a tiny bit better day by day, until the terrible moment that we were told nothing more could be done.

Dylan Hafertepen originally agreed to speak to Gay Star News about Chapman’s passing.

But when questions regarding the silicone treatments and possible steroid use came up, Hafertepen demurred, writing in an email, “Tank was an incredible man and I don’t want him remembered by the thing that contributed to his death.”

Chapman is also survived by his mother, who lives in Melbourne, Australia.


UPDATE: Since I posted this report, I’ve heard from a number of people alleging an element of domestic abuse in this case.

While I can’t substantiate any of those claims, it seems adding a link to someone who has compiled their alleged proof would make this post more thorough.

To read about the allegations of domestic abuse, click here. I’ll repeat that I haven’t had the chance to prove or disprove the allegations shared at the link.

Jack Chapman

Georgia: Church Sign Reads “Homosexuality is a death worthy crime”

Robert Lee, the pastor of Ten Commandments Church in Milledgeville, Ga., recently changed the sign outside his church to read, “Homosexuality is a death worthy crime.”

Lee would seem to be calling for the death of homosexuals.

From Talking Points Memo:

“Homosexuality is an abomination, and the Bible says that homosexuality is a death worthy crime,” Lee told WGXA.

The sign references Leviticus 20:13, which reads, “If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”

Lee told WGXA that he hoped his sign would have an impact and said he would oppose a Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage.

“The institution of marriage was instituted by God and it should not be changed by people who deserve not to live,” he said.

Department Of Justice Officially Announces No Charges Against George Zimmerman

The Department of Justice has officially announced there will be no charges filed against George Zimmerman for the 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

From ABC News:

ABC News has learned Martin’s family will soon be notified that the Justice Department will not be filing charges against George Zimmerman, who shot the 17-year-old after a confrontation in 2012. Thursday marks three years to the day since Martin was killed.

Federal prosecutors concluded there is not sufficient evidence to prove Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman in Sanford, Fla., intentionally violated Martin’s civil rights, sources told ABC News.

Alabama Issues New Death Certificate Recognizing Marriage Of Paul Hard To David Fancher

Paul Hard of Alabama applies for death certificate for his late husband

Amid all the joy and happiness happening today in Alabama, a more subdued moment occurred when Paul Hard, whose husband David Fancher had died, filed for a new death certificate recognizing his marriage.

Fancher was killed in a car accident in 2011. At the time, upon arriving at the hospital armed with power of attorney, living will and their marriage certificate, he was told that the hospital wanted to speak to his “real” family.

Ultimately, his evil mother-in-law went to court to try and cut Hard out of the proceeds of a wrongful death lawsuit, saying the marriage was not recognized by the state – and she wanted to keep it that way. (State law only allows for legal family members to receive such funds).

Thanks to Judge Granade’s ruling on same-sex marriage, Hard was able to receive a new death certificate today acknowledging his marriage.

NYC: Grand Jury Declines To Indict Officer Who Choked Man To Death

Just days after a grand jury declined to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, a grand jury in Staten Island has decided not to indict New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner, a black man who died after being placed in a chokehold.

Garner, 43, died July 17 while he was being arrested for selling untaxed cigarettes. In a video of the arrest, which has since gone viral, Garner screams “I can’t breathe!” multiple times until his body goes limp. A medical examiner later said that he died of a chokehold, a move that is banned by the NYPD, and ruled his death a homicide.

I’m not anti-police. I’m really not. But it’s difficult to see – given the video and the medical examiner ruling the death a homicide – how the grand jury didn’t see grounds for an indictment of involuntary manslaughter.

I don’t believe Daniel Pantaleo meant to kill Garner, but he did use a chokehold (an NYPD no-no) and he caused the man’s death, albeit by accident.

How is this not involuntary manslaughter?

Reports are now coming in that the Justice Department will investigate the death.