Hero Down: Cook Co. Correctional Ofc. Sheila Rivera Dies Of Medical Issues
Chicago, IL – Cook County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Correctional Officer Sheila Rivera died on April 19 due to medical complications caused by COVID-19.
The 47-year old corrections officer, who also suffered from diabetes, initially believed she had fallen ill with the flu, her family told WBBM.
After battling the illness for a week, Correctional Officer Rivera tested positive for COVID-19 and was admitted to Resurrection Medical Center, where she suffered a seizure.
“It wasn’t until later that we heard she had a heart attack,” her brother, Sonny Mattera, told WBBM.
Correctional Officer Rivera succumbed to complications of the novel coronavirus on April 19.
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office determined her cause of death was bronchopneumonia, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
She worked her last shift at the Cook County jail on April 5.
“She was very nervous going to work,” Mattera told WBBM. “I think because she’s immunocompromised for having diabetes, she should have been protected more and not placed with inmates with known coronavirus.”
Correctional Officer Rivera, whose family lived on the Choctaw Indian Reservation in Mississippi for generations, served with the Choctaw Tribal Police Department prior to meeting her husband, Chicago Police Department Sergeant Noland Rivera, at a law enforcement conference, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
She ultimately relocated to Chicago, and joined the CCSO in 2012.
“She didn’t think of [the jail] like this harsh terrible thing. I don’t think she really spoke about it badly,” Mattera told the Chicago Sun-Times. “She liked helping people that were less fortunate than her, and she liked being a voice of reason for some of the people in there.”
Mattera said that his sister was beloved by everyone who knew her – to include several of the inmates she encountered at the jail, WBBM reported.
“Some of the inmates came and told her if there was ever a fight, they’d make sure she didn’t get hurt,” he noted.
Correctional Officer Rivera is one of many “unsung heroes” in the battle against the novel coronavirus, CCSO spokesperson Sophia Ansari told the Chicago Sun-Times.
“Our hearts are broken over the loss of Officer Rivera, and we send our deepest condolences to her family and loved ones,” Ansari said.
In addition to her husband and brother, Correctional Officer Rivera leaves behind her 16-year-old son, Isaiah, WBBM reported.
She is also survived by her mother and siblings, according to a fundraising page established to help her family in the wake of their loss.
“Sheila…was a ray of sunshine and touched everyone’s heart,” the page read. “She was the kindest, most caring person you could ever encounter. We are all blessed to have her touch our hearts in her own special ways.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Cook County Sheriff’s Office Correctional Officer Sheila Rivera, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.