COVID survivor released from hospital after he and 9 others contracted virus at backyard BBQ in Fontana

APPLE VALLEY, Calif. (KABC) -- It was a cheerful farewell that nearly didn't happen.

Randy Smith of Apple Valley was one of 10 family members who contracted the novel coronavirus at a backyard barbecue in Fontana -- and was so close to death that his wife was told by doctors to say her goodbyes.

Now Smith is heading home after three months in the hospital.

"Thank God," he said. "It was life and death, and I made it out this side."

It's been a long road to get here. Smith had a litany of problems when he was diagnosed in June.

10 test positive for COVID-19 after attending family backyard BBQ in Fontana
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An Apple Valley man was hospitalized and near death after he and nine other family members tested positive for COVID-19 following a backyard barbecue.


"I had collapsed lungs, pneumonia," he recalled. "I had a stroke."

Dr. Nicole Hanrahan, medical director of Encompass Health Rehab hospital of Murrieta, added that Smith also developed "acute respiratory failure, required two chest tubes and the help of a tracheostomy for breathing."

He had to relearn how to walk, talk and eat.

When things were at their worst, the family believes that prayer saved his life.

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Doctors at CHOC Children's in Orange County say 14-year-old Agustina Rojas was the sickest COVID-19 patient they've ever had. The Placentia teen was near death twice, but she beat the virus and is now at home after spending 57 days in the ICU.


"God did a miracle and healed me overnight," Smith said.

Now, he and the rest of his family who survived, four of whom were hospitalized, are imploring others to not follow their path.

"Wearing a mask isn't a joke," said young Riley McGuigan, one of 10 family members who contracted the coronavirus at the barbecue. "People say, 'I'm not gonna wear my mask, it's just OK I'm not gonna get COVD.' It's not a joke. You can die from this. "People are dying from it."

'Miracle man' says prayer helped him survive COVID-19 at age 75
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Family members credit their father's faith, nightly prayers and angels on Earth for saving his life from coronavirus.

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