Deputy nearly dies from COVID-19 after catching virus while trying to save man's life

COVID-19 was the leading cause of death for law enforcement officers in the U.S. in 2021, killing more than 300 officers. One Houston area deputy nearly became part of the statistics.

Doctors gave Harris County Precinct 4 Deputy Constable Jack Kelley only an 8 to 10% chance of surviving COVID-19 and after five months of battling the virus we caught up with him on his second day back to work. 

"I really enjoy my job. I love helping people," the 20-year law enforcement veteran smiles.

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He hasn’t been in uniform or even at work since August 2021 when he tried to save a dying man’s life. 

"We got there and there were three little children looking at their dad laying on the floor," Deputy Kelley explained. "So me and a couple of other deputies we started doing CPR on the guy."

Turns out, that man died of COVID-19 and spread it to the three deputies. 

"Within two days I started feeling like something ain’t [sic] right," he said. "About the third day I woke up, and it was like breathing through a straw."


Deputy Kelley's wife, who’s also a deputy, then caught COVID from him. 

"I tested positive, but I tested negative like four days later," explained Precinct 4 Deputy Tommi Kelley. 


"I was really worried about her. She’s my rock. I don’t think, I wouldn’t be here without her," said Deputy Kelley. 

Both, who are unvaccinated, were battling COVID-19 for the second time, and soon she rushed him to the hospital where because of the pandemic she couldn’t stay and be by his side.

"I stayed awake for several days in the hospital with the fear of as soon as I close my eyes I ain’t going to wake up," says Deputy Kelley. 

"It was really hard mentally and emotionally," adds Mrs. Kelley. "They asked me if they could put him on a ventilator because he wasn’t agreeing to it and I asked what he said. He said ‘no,’ so I honored what he said, and I said ‘no.'"

Doctors gave the deputy a less than 10% shot at surviving.

"I was hallucinating from the low oxygen levels," Deputy Kelley explained. "I was watching the pictures on the walls spin around."

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"They were just really blunt about it and told me I might want to contact the kids and grandkids and start making arrangements," said Mrs. Kelley. 

Then three weeks ago, a blood clot was discovered and removed from his arm. Deputy Kelley was taken off oxygen, began vastly improving and just returned to work Thursday. "I’m glad to be back," he smiles. 

Back, where this deputy is also a bit of a pastor on patrol. 

"I pastor out in my Tahoe on just about every call I go on," smiles Deputy Kelley. "Sometimes I’ll bring my Bible out. I’ve gone on family disturbances where the husband and wife are just mad, throwing stuff and I leave with them hugging."

Nearly dying of COVID-19 has changed the deputy's life. 

"I’ve slowed down now and I enjoy the little things," he explained. "This has opened my eyes to what is really important in life and that’s family."

That includes his work family who prayed with and for him and his wife during this difficult time.  

"I literally have hundreds of text messages and phone calls from people who work here," said Mrs. Kelley.


"They kept calling checking on us. I mean I was out six months. The constable’s office helped us out financially," said Deputy Kelley who has this message of hope for anyone who may need it: "It’s going to get better. Take one day at a time and just keep moving forward and don’t look back."

So what does the future hold for Deputy Kelley? Well, he says he will continue protecting, serving, and ministering from his Tahoe.