John King, a former Ceres Police Department sergeant who died Oct. 8, 2021 from COVID as a Nevada Sheriff’s deputy, has left a widow who is protesting that his life insurance company won’t pay out a claim.
King left Ceres in 2014 for South Lake Tahoe Police Department and later the Nevada Highway Patrol before taking a job with the Lyon County Sheriff’s Department headquartered in Dayton, Nev., on July 26, 2021. Less than a month later he came down with symptoms believed to be flu after responding to a call where somebody had possibly passed away from COVID. He refused to seek a doctor for breathing problems because his health insurance hadn’t kicked in by then. When his conditions worsened, an ambulance took King to the hospital where he spent the last seven weeks of his life.
As if the death of her 49-year-old husband and loss of the father of their three children wasn’t a serious enough blow, Gloria King said Guardian Insurance has refused to pay a $50,000 policy. Guardian Life Insurance said that based on its policy, John needed to be “fully capable of performing the major duties” of full-time work on Oct. 1, the day the policy took effect. But on that day, King was fighting for his life from COVID that he contracted on the job. She is appealing the denial, with the aid of Kim Chapman, widow of the late Ceres Police Commander John Chapman.
King told News 4 in Reno: “What blows my mind as someone who puts a badge on and risks his life every single day and walks out the door not knowing if he’s coming home, and you’re telling me that they don’t get life insurance policy if they should die?”
Chapman said the company needs to exercise some common sense, saying King put his life at risk the moment he first went on patrol and not just from Oct. 1 onward.
News 4 in Reno obtained a statement after pressing Guardian Life Insurance as to why payment was denied but only said, “We understand this is a very difficult time for the King family and our thoughts go out to them. Out of respect for individual privacy, we do not comment on the specifics of a claim determination involving one of our insureds.”
Lyon County human resources assured Mrs. King numerous times that John’s life insurance policy would pay out the money, but the department said it is not responsible for Guardian Life Insurance’s decision.
The widow said she had to get a second job to pay her bills as she waits to hear back on a workers compensation claim as well as a federal program.
King’s hospital bills have cost nearly $1 million.
King, who served in the Army before entering law enforcement, was grieved as a “good man” by Lyon County Undersheriff Ed Kilgore.
While he was in Ceres, King helped to organize an 11-week Ceres Citizen’s Academy designed to increase public awareness about crime, drugs and gangs and be of greater aid to police in catching the bad guys.
King also helped to honor then 12-year-old Oscar Martinez who held back students from being killed in a deadly Feb. 9, 2011 crash at Darwin Avenue at Fowler Road. The crash killed one girl. King praised the boy because his observations helped lead to the arrest of Larry Dale Duke who fled the scene.
He also was an enthusiastic participant in the department’s Beards for Kids program at Christmas time.