Ben Luderer, a beloved New Jersey high school baseball coach, died in his home from COVID-19 at the age of 30 on Monday. His death occurred after he had been treated at a hospital and was briefly feeling better.
The Cliffside Park School District confirmed the news of Luderer’s death in a statement on Monday. In addition to being the head varsity baseball coach, he was a teacher for students with disabilities at the borough’s School No. 6, which covers grades five through eight.
Greg Butler — who was Luderer’s baseball coach at Don Bosco Preparatory High School in Ramsey, New Jersey, when the team ranked number one in the country in 2008 — told NJ.com that Luderer was “a healthy, strong, athletic 30-year-old.”
“Even the invincible aren’t invincible,” a shocked Butler said. “That was a group of guys who could not be beaten. Then something like this happens and shows just how vulnerable we all are.”
Luderer’s wife, Brandy Luderer, told BuzzFeed News that she tested positive for COVID-19 on March 19. Soon after, her husband began to show symptoms. Last Friday night, he went to a hospital where he was temporarily put on oxygen, prescribed medication, and then advised to go home lest being at the hospital lead to more severe illness.
Brandy Luderer said he was doing better over the weekend and was able to get out of bed and hold conversations. But he took a turn for the worse on Sunday night. His wife, who was self-isolating from him by sleeping on the couch, said she began receiving texts from him that he was feeling sick again.
“I went back to see what I could do. I tried as much as I could,” she told BuzzFeed. “He was sweating through his clothes. He was scared.”
When she checked on him early the next morning, he was dead.
Ben Luderer’s friends, family and colleagues are mourning him online with an outpouring of love. The Cliffside Park School District’s Facebook page has a memorial, which recalls Luderer as “a great coach, teacher, friend.”
Luderer’s college baseball team, the Marist Red Foxes, paid tribute to Luderer on Twitter. “Saddened with the news of former student-athlete Ben Luderer’s passing. He was tough, smart & a great teammate,” the post reads.
Ben’s father, Bill Luderer, told local station ABC 7 NY that his son was “a gift” and that he had a “great sense of humor, he was kind of sarcastic at times, but he was loving and caring.”
That caring nature extended to his parents: Even as he was ailing, he felt guilty about having exposed them to the coronavirus before he knew his diagnosis.
“My son would text or call literally every 15 minutes,” Bill Luderer told ABC 7. “‘How are you feeling? Are you doing OK? Have you taken your temperature?’”
“It’s not just the old, it’s the young,” the grieving father warned. “It’s not just the sick, it’s the healthy, and it can affect absolutely everyone.”
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