A CARE home resident has died after contracting deadly Legionnaires' Disease.
The 64-year-old man was the second resident to have had the bug at Hartlepool's West View Lodge care home.
Health protection chiefs launched an investigation at the home – but tests proved negative.
Distraught family friend Anita Stevens, 46, said: "He was like a dad to me.
"I'm devastated. To have his life taken away by this disease is just terrible."
Retired security guard Maurice was rushed to hospital at the end of November last year with chronic breathing problems and was diagnosed with Legionnaires' Disease.
Medics battled desperately for three weeks to save his life. But he never recovered and tragically lost his battle for life on December 16.
Hartlepool coroner Malcolm Donnelly opened an inquest into his death and confirmed he had died from the disease.
Divorcee Maurice, who had one daughter, lived in the town's Arch Court, on the Central Estate, before a severe infection in his leg led to it being amputated.
He also developed breathing problems and after a stay in hospital he became a resident at West View Lodge.
Maurice was visited regularly at the 74-room West View Road home by Anita, also of Arch Court, who had become an "adopted daughter".
He was taken into hospital in January last year after contracting pneumonia and made a full recovery.
But Anita received a call from the home at the end of November to say Maurice had been rushed to the University Hospital of Hartlepool.
The single mum-of-two said: "They said he had breathing problems, but when I saw him in hospital I knew it was more serious.
"He was sent to the critical care unit and the doctors put him in an induced coma because his condition was deteriorating.
"The next day they told me he had Legionnaires' Disease. I was just stunned. I couldn't believe it."
Medics battled furiously to save Maurice, but he never recovered.
Anita added: "I just want to know how he got the disease that led to his death. It's just awful."
Maurice was the second resident at the home to have contracted Legionnaires'.
A 69-year-old man contracted before making a full recovery.
Health protection chiefs and Hartlepool Borough Council's environmental health department carried out tests at the home, but found no trace of the disease.
A spokesman for Hartlepool coroner Malcolm Donnelly said: "Mr Donnelly opened an inquest in this case because he was concerned this was the second case of Legionnaires' from this care home within the last few months.
"The Health Protection Authority is preparing a report for Mr Donnelly.
"Once it is received, Mr Donnelly will review the case to decide whether any further action is necessary."
A spokesperson for Four Seasons, which owns the care home, said: "A resident at West View Lodge care home has died in hospital after contracting Legionnaires' Disease.
"The home co-operated fully with Hartlepool Borough Council Environmental Health Department, NHS Tees and the Health Protection Agency who carried out the investigation and the findings show there was no trace of Legionnaires' within the home.
"Staff at the home are saddened by the loss and our thoughts are with his family.
"Three months before there was a case of Legionnaires' involving a resident at West View Lodge care home but the resident had also been in other locations and as a result the source of the infection was undetermined."