SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KTVU) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said flu activity in the United States is picking up. A Harley Owners Group in San Jose is mourning the death of one its members. They said, a 38-year-old Santa Clara man died from the flu over the weekend in Arizona.
Members of the Lane Splitter Harley Davidson group in San Jose are coming to grips with the sudden death of 38-year-old Vince Harris.
“It makes me sad,” said Michael Pursell of San Jose. “He was a great guy, a good father. He cared for his mom.”
Members were notified over the weekend. The draftsman from Santa Clara was visiting family in Arizona when he was hospitalized Saturday night. He was admitted due to complications with the flu that developed into pneumonia. On Sunday, he passed away.
Harris was about to be a road captain. His certification ride was this weekend. Michael Pursell was his mentor.
“I saw him three weeks ago at our road captains meeting and he was healthy as a horse,” said Pursell. “He was joking around with everybody.”
"Surprise and shock,” said Sam Saiu of San Jose. “I fully expected to see him Saturday and go on the ride with him.”
“Flu can affect anyone of all ages,” said Dr. George Han of the Santa Clara County Public Health Department. “That's why it's so important for everyone who is six months of age and older to get the flu vaccine.”
On Tuesday, the Santa Clara County Health Department reported its first flu death of the season, a 39-year-old resident with underlying medical conditions, not Vince Harris. It’s unclear if that person was vaccinated.
The county has had four other cases this season of people rushed to the ICU who were severely ill. Those with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease are more at risk. Doctors said flu vaccines are the best protection.
“When I was at Kaiser this last time they told us of the dangers,” said Member Mike Monaghan of San Jose. “I went ahead and got the flu vaccine, the booster. I’m glad I did that.”
“I knew that he was having heart problems or he was getting his heart looked at,” said Pursell.
Members aren't sure if that or any other medical conditions contributed to Harris's death. They plan to complete his certification ride this Saturday in his honor.
“The word is sadder place without him that's for sure,” said Pursell.
The county had 11 deaths during the flu season last year. Those who have the flu are encouraged to stay home as it's contagious like the cold. Doctors reiterate it's never too late to get vaccinated.