HAVERTOWN, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- As a first responder, Nick Sava would have been among the first groups of people to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, but his friends say he somehow got the virus two weeks ago and never recovered.
Sava, 65, spent almost 50 years as a volunteer firefighter with the Oakmont Fire Company in Havertown, Pennsylvania. He also served in multiple leadership positions to the rank of deputy chief. He even worked as a bartender at the Lamplighter and the Cheese Club.
"Everybody in Havertown knows Nick. He just was that kind of person. He was well loved, had a great sense of humor," said longtime friend Janice Dea.
Dea says for years, Sava would dress up as a clown to make kids laugh during Oakmont Fire Company's Santa Sunday.
"He was so popular in this community," added Dea.
She says two weeks ago, Sava caught a really bad case of COVID-19.
"His wife Karen ended up taking him to the hospital. As soon as he got there, they intubated him, so he was in bad shape from the beginning and then he ended up on kidney dialysis," said Dea.
Medical personnel at Bryn Mawr Hospital fought desperately to save him.
Sava passed away early Monday morning, the same week that the COVID-19 vaccine began being distributed across the region.
"He just got sick a little bit too soon. His family is devastated," said Dea.
On its Facebook page announcing his passing, the fire company said, "Nick will be sorely missed by all of us at Oakmont, Rest easy Nick. We will never forget you or your dedicated volunteer service."
Funeral arrangements for Sava are still pending.