Hawaii

Sign Language Interpreter Who Served Hawaiians During Pandemic Dies From Coronavirus in San Diego

Patty Sakal, who provided sign language interpretation during emergency updates in Hawaii, died from COVID-19 in San Diego after traveling here to see her daughter, a Navy sailor, before a deployment

NBC Universal, Inc.

In San Diego and across the pacific, people are mourning a woman well known in Hawaii for her pivotal role during the pandemic. Tragically, 62-year-old Patty Sakal, a sign language interpreter, died from COVID-19 complications just days ago here in San Diego.

Sakal, an advocate for the hearing impaired, was on Hawaii TV often during government provided emergency updates. Most recently, she kept people informed during the pandemic.

“She was so incredibly loving and giving. She helped all,” her daughter daughter Aisha Sakal said.

Aisha Sakal, who lives in Texas, tried to convince her mom not to travel to San Diego for Christmas to visit her other daughter Andrea, a Navy sailor deploying soon.

“I think like maybe the mama bear just kind of came in like, 'I want to go see my daughter,'” said Aisha Sakal.

But Patty Sakal, after arriving in San Diego, started to get a cold.

“My nose is a little runny, but it’s probably just because I’m not used to this cold air, the dry air,” Aisha Sakal remembered her mother saying.

In order to travel back to Hawaii, Patty Sakal took a coronavirus test and it was positive.

“She’s like, 'I’m just really scared. I said I know you are,” said Aisha Sakal.

Within a few days Patty Sakal's health declined so quickly, she ended up at the ER struggling to breathe.

“Shock. Like, man this has escalated very quickly. I can’t believe it, you know. Like what’s happening?” said Aisha Sakal.

In less than a week, nurses told the family it was time to say their goodbyes. Their last contact was virtual, but they had a special request: to play jazz music, which was Patty Sakal's favorite.

“'We love you. You can go mom. Andrea is gonna be okay. Her grandson is gonna be ok,'” said Aisha Sakal, recounting their final words to their mother.

Aisha Sakal is now doing what she can to share her mom's story, knowing she's not alone in this worldwide tragedy.

 "This is in honor of my mom Patty Sakal who died of COVID complications on 1-15-21,” read a sign Aisha Sakal held as she posed for a photo while getting her coronavirus vaccine.

The Sakal family has set up a GoFundMe page here.

Contact Us