West Hills pastor dies from West Nile virus; community honors him

WEST HILLS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A beloved San Fernando Valley pastor who fell victim to the West Nile virus was remembered Friday by the community he served and the church he helped revive.

Pastor Dave Drummond survived cancer, but it was a mosquito bite that led to his decline in health. He was contracted by the virus last summer and passed away Tuesday morning. He was 75.

For 17 years, Drummond, known as Pastor Dave to his congregation, was the heart and soul of the West Hills Baptist Church.

He helped build the church from 20 members to well over 200, who packed the church for his service.

"He was a compassionate listener and an orator when he spoke and that combination just drew people to him," said Mike Cocoris, also a pastor and Drummond's best friend.

Many said they're still in disbelief that he's gone.

"It's surprising that one mosquito destroyed him, but he's left his body and he's a spirit now, and he's with the lord," said young church member Milad Shafieezad.

Heidi Hammer, also a part of the community, said everyone should be more alert and not underestimate West Nile.

"...whatever you have standing outside, go out and dump those out. It might save a life. It's unbelievable. It's like one in a 100 people wind up this ill and this sick, and he was ill for six months," she said.

As painful as the loss is to the small church community, they wanted his service to be a celebration of his life.

The church set up a GoFundMe page to help the family with medical bills and funeral costs.
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