A beloved New Jersey high school baseball coach has died of coronavirus (COVID-19). Ben Luderer was just 30 years old.
Cliffside Park School District confirmed the news of Ben’s death in a statement to the community.
“It is with deep regret that we inform you of the death of Mr. Ben Luderer, a teacher in School No. 6 and our varsity baseball coach. Our heartfelt sympathy is extended to Mrs. Luderer, her family members, friends, and the entire Cliffside Park community,” the statement read.
“The Board of Education and the Administration want to extend our care and support to the Luderer family and to our community during this time. Our Administration and Counselors are available to support you and your children with any assistance you may need.”
Ben’s college baseball team Marist Red Foxes also paid tribute to Luderer on Twitter writing, “Saddened with the news of former student-athlete Ben Luderer’s passing. He was tough, smart & a great teammate. Went on to be a love teacher & coach! We pray for Ben’s wife and family!”
Ben’s own high school baseball coach Greg Butler also spoke out about the athlete’s death, explaining it left him stunned.
Butler recalled coaching Luderer’s team from Don Bosco Preparatory High School telling BuzzFeed: “That team was invincible.”
“The reason they were champions was because of the attitude Ben and so many others,” Butler told BuzzFeed. “He really embodied that spirit.
“The irony of the whole situation here is the team that was invincible can be defeated with this invisible virus that’s out there.”
Ben’s wife Brandy, a special education teacher and athletics coach also for Cliffside Park Schools, also opened up about her husband’s death to BuzzFeed, explaining that she tested positive for coronavirus on March 19. Just three days later, Ben began exhibiting symptoms of the virus.
As his condition worsened, Ben went to the hospital on Friday, March 27 for treatment and was briefly put on oxygen, Brandy told BuzzFeed. Ben was later discharged from the hospital.
On Sunday, Ben appeared to show signs of recovery, however, he told his wife later that evening that he was struggling, Brandy told BuzzFeed.
“I went back to see what I could do. I tried as much as I could. He was sweating through his clothes. He was scared,” Brandy told BuzzFeed news. By 6 a.m. the next morning, Ben was dead.
Remembering his son, Ben’s father Bill Luderer said the baseball coach “is a gift.”
“Ben is a gift that was given to us that we were happy and privileged to have had for 30 years,” Bill told ABC 7 NY. “He was a wonderful person and connected with everybody that he knew. He had a great sense of humor, he was kind of sarcastic at times, but he was loving and caring.”
Bill shared that after his son and Brandy had tested positive, Ben continued to check on his parents after feeling guilty for exposing them.
“My son would text or call literally every 15 minutes,” Bill 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. It’s not just the sick, it’s the healthy, and it can affect absolutely everyone.”
Ben had no underlying health conditions prior to his death.
As of Tuesday, there are now at least 173,741 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, the most worldwide.
At least 3,433 people in the U.S. have died from coronavirus-related illness, a total that has tripled in five days.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.
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