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Suffolk native dies in Hawaii

A Suffolk native whose family had been trying to bring him home from a hospital in Hawaii died in the hospital there earlier this month.

Peter Steven Judkins, 38, died May 8 in Honolulu. He had been living in Hawaii for the past seven years, working as an artist, fisherman and musician.

“He’s at peace now,” his stepmother, Beverly Judkins, said Thursday. “He had gotten really to where he was in a lot of pain. He couldn’t even eat.”

Judkins walked into Queens Medical Center in Honolulu on Dec. 9, complaining of back pain. The hospital admitted him to treat his severe pain, but he soon had a seizure, and his heart stopped beating.

When doctors revived him, he was paralyzed from the neck down. A MRSA infection had caused an abscess next to his spine and cut off blood access to his spinal cord. He then became a quadriplegic, and his family was trying to raise enough money to bring him home to Virginia.

The family received a call on April 30 that Peter had taken a turn for the worse, Beverly Judkins said. She and Peter’s sister, Melissa, arrived in Hawaii on May 2.

“When we first saw him, we thought he was doing great,” Beverly Judkins said. “He was really alert and smiling.”

The next day, however, doctors explained that Peter’s body was shutting down. His liver was inflamed, and his body would not process any type of food.

Peter made the decision to be taken off the ventilator on May 8, Beverly Judkins said. His father and brother had arrived in Hawaii the day before, and he talked to all of his other siblings on the telephone.

On May 8, the family took Communion together before the ventilator was unplugged.

“I feel like I learned so much from Peter about faith and God just in the week that we were there,” Beverly Judkins said. “He said, ‘Mom, I firmly believe we were put on this earth for two purposes, and one is to take care of our fellow man, and one is to love our fellow man.’”

The family and local organizations conducted numerous fundraisers to raise the money needed to bring Peter home. After his death, the family posted a note on its Web site, sites.google.com/site/bringpeterhome, that part of the money raised will be used for funeral expenses, and part will be used to pay for their trips to visit him before his death.

There will be a visitation at Parr Funeral Home and Crematory, 3515 Robs Drive, on Sunday from 3 to 5 p.m. A graveside service will be conducted by the Rev. Dr. Keith R. Emerson on Monday at 2 p.m. at Oakwood Cemetery in Surry.