NewsLocal NewsCuyahoga County


Unimaginable: Westlake teenagers lose mom, dad and aunt to COVID-19 in span of just 3 days

Screen Shot 2021-12-21 at 10.18.39 PM.png
Posted at 10:38 PM, Dec 21, 2021

WESTLAKE, Ohio — At just 18-years old, Sara Golembiewski has her whole life ahead of her. But now, the future seems a bit more intimidating.

“I am a little scared to face the world without the help of my parents,” she said.

But instead of thinking about the future, the Westlake teenager can’t stop thinking about moments and memories with her loved ones that she can’t get back.

“It was a Sweetheart Ball for Girl Scouts. It was my first one and my dad wasn’t able to make it so my mom took me, and while all the daughters were dancing with their dad, I was dancing with my mom,” she said as she held up a picture of the event.

Golembiewski and her 15-year old brother are dealing with the unimaginable: the deaths of their mother, father, and aunt.

Shortly after Thanksgiving her aunt, 59-year old Debra Machka, her father, 46-year old Brian Golembiewski, and her mother, 57-year old Gail Golembiewski all got sick with COVID-19.

“I was the only vaccinated one in my family,” she said. “I told them to go to the hospital and they didn’t listen to me. I knew something bad was going to happen.”

Sara Golembiewski said they all had underlying conditions. Her mother suffered from lupus, hypothyroidism, and diabetes. Her father was obese and suffered from lupus, heart problems, and diabetes. Her aunt also had diabetes and lupus.

Golembiewski said she wasn’t sure why they didn’t want to go to the hospital, she said it could’ve been fear.

On Dec. 7, Golembiewski went to check on her aunt because she wasn’t answering her phone. She found her dead.

“My dad was on the floor literally bawling because he lost his sister,” she said.

Golembiewski said she was reeling from the shock of it all when her mom woke her up later that evening.

“She’s like ‘Sara come down here now,’ I’m like ‘Why?’ and she’s like ‘Your father passed away.’”

As Golembiewski, her mother, and brother tried to make sense of it all, her mom’s condition worsened.

On Dec.10, just three days after the death of her father and aunt, her mom passed away.

“My brother is screaming and freaking out he’s like ‘What are we going to do? Who are we going to go with? I’m like ‘I don’t know.’”

In the days since her brother is with family in Streetsboro.

Jennifer Bohannon, Golembiewski’s boyfriend’s mom, took her in so she can finish her senior year at Westlake High School.

“I thought it was kind of important not to be pulled away, so far away, from all of her friends and the support,” said Bohannon. “ I’ve been really trying to be there for Sara and supporting her.”

Bohannon started a GoFundMe page for the Golembiewski siblings.

She said the money will go into a trust set up by a lawyer and divided evenly between Golembiewski and her brother.

And while, both, Golembiewski and her brother face their first Christmas without their parents and aunt, she hopes her story will serve as a reminder to take precautions to stop the spread.

“Get vaccinated. If my parents got it, it would’ve saved their lives. I think it would’ve,” she said.

Another important lesson from the teenager: love while you can.

“There are times I wish I could go back and watch a video again like mom was like ‘Hey come look at this,’ or my dad wanted to watch a movie with me and I was like ‘No, I’m good. I don’t really want to.’ I wish I could get those moments back, so spend every moment you can because once they’re gone they’re gone and there’s nothing you can really do to get them back.”

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Download the News 5 app for free to easily access local coronavirus coverage, and to receive timely and limited news alerts on major COVID-19 developments. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

Vaccinating Ohio - Find the latest news on the COVID-19 vaccines, Ohio's phased vaccination process, a map of vaccination clinics around the state, and links to sign up for a vaccination appointment through Ohio's online portal.

See data visualizations showing the impact of coronavirus in Ohio, including county-by-county maps, charts showing the spread of the disease, and more.

Rebound Northeast Ohio News 5's initiative to help people through the financial impact of the coronavirus by offering one place to go for information on everything available to help and how to access it. We're providing resources on:

Getting Back to Work - Learn about the latest job openings, how to file for benefits and succeed in the job market.

Making Ends Meet - Find help on topics from rent to food to new belt-tightening techniques.

Managing the Stress - Feeling isolated or frustrated? Learn ways to connect with people virtually, get counseling or manage your stress.

Doing What's Right - Keep track of the way people are spending your tax dollars and treating your community.

We're Open! Northeast Ohio is place created by News 5 to open us up to new ways of thinking, new ways of gathering and new ways of supporting each other.

View a map of COVID-19 testing locations here.

Visit Ohio's Coronavirus website for the latest updates from the Ohio Department of Health.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.