A family in North Carolina is weathering two tragedies after a husband and wife died just minutes apart from each other following a month-long battle with the novel coronavirus.
Johnny Lee Peoples, 67, and his wife Cathy Darlene Peoples, 65, died of COVID-19 on Sept. 2 at Novant Health Rowan Regional Medical Center in Salisbury, according to their joint obituary.
The couple had been struggling with coronavirus for 30 days when they were placed in a room together for a final goodbye, their surviving son Shane Peoples said.
“Everything just went south, everything just got worse,” he told WBTV. “The next day [medical staff] put them in the same room, same ICU room, they put their hands together, the nurses gathered around and they passed within four minutes of each other.”
“They were married 48 years, been together 50, they walked hand in hand for those 50 years,” Shane said of his parents.
Both natives of North Carolina, Johnny was a sergeant in the U.S. Army and worked for the NC Department of Corrections and Cathy worked as teacher assistant at Salisbury Academy and a lab technician at LabCorp, according to an online tribute.
In their obituary, Johnny was described by his relatives as a man who “loved coaching youth sports, playing music and building the family tree,” while Cathy’s interested included crafting, listening to music and playing cards.
Their loved ones said in the tribute that the pair both enjoyed fishing and “spending quality time with family and friends.”
Johnny and Cathy are survived by their three children, nine grandchildren and numerous relatives. They are also survived by their beloved poodles, Sammy and Macy.
RELATED VIDEO: Man Says His Final Goodbyes to Wife of Almost 30 Years Shortly Before She Dies of Coronavirus
“The lives of Mom and Dad were stolen by a virus that many joke about on a daily basis or just straight out believe it’s a hoax of some sort. Both of them took this pandemic seriously and still got sick, still died…” Shane wrote in a personal tribute on Facebook. “My parents weren’t just a blessing for me, my brother, my sister, our spouses, and our children. They were a blessing to every person that met them.”
“They both loved their family very much and did anything and everything they could possibly do for them,” he continued. “I had some pretty darn awesome parents.”
In his post, Shane also encouraged people to wear a mask, wash their hands and practice social distancing amid the ongoing pandemic.
“Hold your family close,” he added. “Treat every moment with them like it’s your last, it could very well be. Love and keep on loving.”
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.
Video: ‘I’ll never forgive him’ | Wounded young man describes Dunwoody attack that claimed mother, sister (WXIA-TV Atlanta)