Montana family devastated by loss after family gets COVID-19

Stepdad dies, mom on ventilator
Posted at 9:59 AM, Oct 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-29 11:59:27-04

LOCKWOOD — A Lockwood family is devastated after losing their stepdad and putting their mother on a ventilator on the same day.

“It was completely unexpected. Our hearts are completely broken right now,” said daughter Jessica Brey.

Brey and most of her family got COVID-19 in early October. Brey’s mother, Sammi Pedigo, 50, had a worse case and was taken to Billings Clinic.

Brey woke up Monday morning to a call from her mother saying that she was being fully sedated and put on a ventilator. Brey went to wake up her stepfather, Jerry Pedigo, so they could talk to her mom while she was being sedated.

But what she found will haunt her forever.

“So I go downstairs thinking that I was just going to wake him up, and I found him lying on the floor in the basement. I ran up to him, dropped down to him, said, 'Jerry, wake up' over and over again. I tried to find a pulse in his arm, couldn’t find one,” she said.

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The Pedigo family.

Brey's stepfather had died sometime during the night at age 49. The coroner has yet to determine the cause but believes he had COVID-19 at the time of his death, according to the family.

“I haven’t been able to talk to my mom. I haven’t been able to know what she knows. She’s not a naïve woman. She’s been a CNA for 20 some years,” said Brey.

Her mom is still fully sedated, and the family is only allowed limited visits where they see her through glass. According to Brey, all she and her brother can do is wait and pray their mother recovers.

“She’s always been a very loving parent. Everybody’s mom is the best mom in the world. My mom is like that,” said Kevin Kohlhepp, Brey’s brother.

“All I want to do is go give my mom a big hug. She’s always been there for me, and I will do anything for her,” said Brey.

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Jessica Brey and her family at her wedding.

The family is now left with medical bills, funeral expenses, and the mortgage for the house they lived in with their parents, which is why friends have created a GoFundMe.

Brey does not want to make funeral arrangements for her stepfather without her mother's say, but doctors don't know how long she'll be under. Much of the family’s future is uncertain, which is why Kohlhepp is clinging to the words of his stepfather.

“What he always said was, we’ll get through it. He didn’t like worrying about it because yes, it’s happening but we’ll get through it. It’s that simple to him, and I’ve kind of adopted that philosophy,” said Kohlhepp.

Sammi Pedigo’s birthday is on Halloween and the family was hoping that she would be awake so they could spend it with her. Doctors are hoping they can take Pedigo off the ventilator sometime in November, but her recovery remains a work in progress.

“All we can do is be hopeful and pray that she can make it through this. I can’t even think about the alternative at the moment,” said Brey.