McCandless volunteer firefighter loses battle with COVID-19

MCCANDLESS, Pa. — A longtime volunteer firefighter at the Peebles department in McCandless sadly died on Thursday due to COVID-19 complications.

We spoke with one of the members who was at his bedside when he passed away.

Lu Flores told us that it was heartbreaking to watch his good friend and fellow brother – Jason Nickolich – pass away after losing his battle with COVID-19.

“I’ve cried multiple times today just thinking about his passing, knowing we lost a great friend and great brother,” explained Flores

Jason tested positive on August 24th, but then had difficulty breathing a few days later and went to UPMC Passavant.

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His longtime friend says Jason was placed on a ventilator, but things got worse — and he died yesterday afternoon. We asked if Jason was vaccinated, but his friends didn’t want to answer that.

“It escalated very quickly I’m shocked all of us are all shocked,” explained Tim Bouris.

Sadly — he celebrated his 49th birthday while in the hospital on September 1st.

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“Someone who’s so young and still active here has been a little hard to accept,” explained Peebles District Volunteer Fire Company member Eric Leathem.

Members tell me this is a tragic loss. Jason was a volunteer firefighter of the Peebles District Volunteer Fiire Company in McCandless for more than 20 years — and was a board trustee for several years.

His nickname was “buddha” and he always had a great attitude and a big smile on his face.

“He was the guy that would always make you smile, made you laugh and remembered you,” explained Leathem.

The firefighters here told Channel 11 that Jason will be very missed. Information on funeral arrangements will be posted on the fire department’s Facebook page.