‘He was the Superman who could overcome anything:’ Alabama siblings lose father after COVID-19 battle

Local News

HALEYVILLE, Ala. (WIAT) — A northwest Alabama family is opening up about the death of their loved one after his battle with COVID-19.

Mark Sampson, a 63-year-old son, brother, husband, father, and grandfather died in late July after fighting coronavirus for 25 days in a Florence hospital.

“It’s just hard to imagine that he is actually gone. He was the superman who could overcome anything,” said Sampson’s daughter, Stephanie Hayes.

Sampson and his family lived in the Bear Creek area, near the Franklin and Marion County lines. He also owned a business, Shelter Products, in Haleyville.

Despite the rural area and precautions the family took, he still contacted the virus.

“He was the center of our family,” said his son, Mark Sampson Jr.

About a week after Father’s Day, Sampson started to get sick. Family members said he typically had a cough from asthma, so they weren’t alarmed until he had trouble catching his breath. He insisted on his family waiting until after the weekend to seek medical attention.

“He waited too long and it wasn’t enough to get him over that breathing difficulty, so I really want to stress to people, don’t wait,” said Hayes.

Once Sampson was seen by his doctors, they learned his blood oxygen had dropped in the 40s. He was rushed to the hospital and intubated within hours.

Family members didn’t get a chance to accompany him to the emergency room.

“We live off of our love for each other and not to be able to be there in a time when someone needs you is really hard,” said Sampson Jr.

Mark Sampson Sr. eventually developed pneumonia and later a collapsed lung that caused him to go into cardiac arrest.

After about 16 minutes of CPR, doctors were able to save him, but family members learned the incident caused a brain injury. He later died.

“We said our goodbyes on Facetime with him intubated and he couldn’t talk back. We couldn’t love on him, we couldn’t hold his hand,” said Mark Sampson Jr.

The family is now without their rock. He is missed every day.

“If everyone in the world could think of others before themselves the way my dad did, so much of the time, the world would be so much of a better place,” said Hayes.

With COVID-19 concerns still lingering, family members still have not had a service.

“We haven’t had that closure of the service and family and friends coming together. It still kind of feels like well he will get better and come home so that reality I don’t think has hit any of us quite yet,” said Hayes.

Despite the precautions they took, 10 members of the Sampson family tested positive for COVID-19 after Sampson contracted the virus.

Sampson’s brother, who is undergoing chemotherapy, did not get sick because he was traveling when Mark was sick.

“It is just a miracle that he was gone on a beach trip during the week that my dad was infected. They work side-by-side, day in and day out, they go everywhere together,” said Sampson. Jr.

As coronavirus cases continue to rise, the Sampsons are pleading with people to think of others and follow health guidelines.

“If you not wearing a mask, or if you not taking the precautions ends one person’s life, and you could prevent that, you will regret the fact that you didn’t,” Sampson Jr. continued, “You have to think about the friend you may have that has a grandmother that they may take that virus to.”

Sampson’s daughter Stephanie said it is alarming to see how many people have ignored precautions.

“By keeping yourself safe, you could not only save yourself and your family but maybe someone else’s,” said Hayes.

Loved ones hope to be able to have a private gathering for family members in the weeks ahead.

All of Mark Sampson’s family members have now tested negative with the exception of his mother. She is getting stronger every day.


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