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After decade in coma, just 10 months awake

Brain-injured firefighter dies of pneumonia

From Laura Dolan
CNN

story.donherbert.gi.jpg
Linda Herbert and son Tom talk last year about Don Herbert's awakening.

(CNN) -- Less than a year after awaking from a decade-long coma, a brain-injured firefighter from Buffalo, New York, has died, fire officials told CNN.

Don Herbert, 44, died of pneumonia early Tuesday morning.

He had been hospitalized Friday afternoon after developing the infection.

"(He) had a high fever and he had a lot of trouble breathing," said Buffalo Fire Commissioner Mike Lombardo. (Watch for details of Herbert's life after he woke up -- 3:21)

Herbert was injured in 1995 when the roof of a burning home collapsed on him and his air pack ran out of oxygen, depriving him of air for 12 minutes. He fell into a coma that lasted nearly 10 years.

His family and the community were stunned last April when he awoke from the coma after doctors made changes to his medication. He spoke with his family for 14 hours before retreating into a more quiet state.

After that memorable day, Herbert was moved to a nursing home, where he continued interacting with family and friends, although never quite at the same level as during the initial 14-hour period of awareness, said his wife, Linda.

"Don was a huge inspiration to the community -- some fighter -- it is hitting people pretty hard," Lombardo said. He said Herbert will receive full Fire Department honors. The funeral has not yet been scheduled.

In addition to his wife, Herbert is survived by four sons.

CNN News Assistant Catherine Clifford contributed to this report.

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