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An Itasca County deputy died from COVID-19 weeks after he contracted the virus that has ravaged the United States for two years.

Jayme Williams, 41, died on Dec. 27 shortly after surgery for a laceration to his liver possibly caused from coughing too hard, according to a statement his family posted on GoFundMe. Williams is survived by his wife, Dusty, and his three young children.

"His biggest achievement in life was his family and his dog," said his niece Jenna Marek in an interview. "He was an avid hunter and he took lots of pride in his job."

Williams, also known as "Rooster," was part of the county's search and rescue team, worked in law enforcement for 12 years and saved many lives, according to Marek.

"Jayme was a brilliant, down-to-earth human who saved so many," she said.

Williams was visibly ill with COVID-19 on Dec. 11 and tried recovering at home. However, he became sicker and stayed at a nearby hospital until an ICU bed opened up in Virginia, Minn. Then he developed pneumonia, according to the family's statement.

They thought Williams was on the road to recovery until it was discovered he was bleeding internally from a laceration on his liver. He went into surgery and later into cardiac arrest.

Medical staff were able to revive him but the bleeding got worse.

"It was a shock," Marek said. "We thought he was getting better and it took a turn for the worse during surgery."

The family has raised $16,000 as of Wednesday evening on GoFundMe. The funds will be used to help with funeral costs, bills and other family needs.

Williams' vaccination status was not known.