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77 year old may be first Native American in Florida to die of COVID-19

Hospitalized for 12 days, man born a Seminole passed away Wednesday

Don Osceola, 77, is the first Native American in Florida to die of coronavirus. (WPLG)

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – A 77-year-old man who grew up on the Big Cypress Seminole Reservation is believed to be the first Native American in Florida to die of coronavirus.

Don Osceola had been hospitalized at Memorial Regional Hospital since April 17; he passed away Wednesday, April 29 from complications related to COVID-19. Osceola had initially tested negative for the virus, but then later tested positive.

It was not released how Osceola may have contracted the disease.

Born a Seminole, he became a member of the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians when he married his first wife, Dorothy Billie, who was a member of the Miccosukee Tribe.

Osceola graduated from Clewiston High School and served in the U.S. Marine Corps. and was on active duty during the Vietnam War. He earned the Purple Heart, according to his daughter, who said he received the honor after a bullet hit the tip of his nose.

Osceola worked for the National Park Service at Shark Valley in Everglades National Park, completed police academy training and worked as a police officer with the Miccosukee Police Department. He later worked in the Housing Department of the Miccosukee Tribe.

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About the Author:

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local 10.com.