When Vadim Kondratyuk Anatoliyevich departed from his home in Antelope, Calif., earlier this month, the long-haul truck driver had no idea he'd be doing so for the last time. But Fox40 reports the 26-year-old developed a toothache that forced him off the road in Oklahoma, where a dentist cleaned an infected tooth and prescribed antibiotics. He felt better until he reached New York, where severe pain and swelling set in. Unable to drive home, brother Miroslav traveled to him; the two made it as far back as Utah where, with Vadim struggling to breathe, Miroslav checked him into a hospital. Four days passed, then "the doctor said tonight is the night he's gonna die, because we did everything we can and nothing seems to work," says his wife, Nataliya. She was at his side when he died Monday.
“They had him on medication, they tried everything,” she tells the Sacramento Bee. "It was just not healing how it was supposed to. It was just getting worse.” Such infections generally begin when food is trapped between the tooth and gum, a dentist tells the newspaper. The resulting bacteria gets into the tooth, leading to painful inflammation, but only rarely does the infection make it into the bloodstream, which can have deadly consequences. Vadim leaves behind daughters Vanessa, 2, and Maya, 11 months. "He's gonna be my angel for the rest of my life," his wife says of the man she spent four years with. A GoFundMe account, which notes Vadim was the family's breadwinner, had raised about $150,000 as of Wednesday. The money will be used in part to return his body to the Sacramento area. (The main reason people avoid the dentist isn't fear.)