Karina Bonilla and Humberto Ruelas-Rivas Los Angeles parents one day apart leaving their five children as orphans after mother caught coronavirus from fruit vendor employer.
Karina Bonilla, 38, died on Monday, and her 60-year-old husband Humberto Ruelas-Rivas passed away a day earlier, KTLA reports.
They left behind five children, ages 2 to 17, as well as Ruelas-Rivas’ two adult daughters from a previous relationship.
‘Within six days, I lost my father,’ said Ruelas-Rivas’ daughter, Maria Ruelas, 35, of Downey. ‘And within eight hours, I lost my stepmother. And now I have five kids.’
Ruelas believes her stepmother contracted coronavirus from the fruit vendor she worked for, who showed symptoms but opted not to self-isolate and continued to show up.
‘I saw a lot of (people) without masks. That terrified me.’
‘She went to work and in less than a week she started presenting symptoms,’ Ruelas told of her father’s wife. ‘She went home and then my father started getting sick.’
Adding, ‘I saw a lot of (people) without masks. That terrified me. That virus took my family away.’
Ruelas said she was prohibited from even saying her last goodbyes to her father.
‘Even though they’re deceased, the virus is still active in their bodies so you can’t touch the body,’ the daughter said. ‘I hope this story doesn’t repeat again. It’s devastating.’
It’s unclear if either Ruelas-Rivas or Bonilla suffered from any pre-existing medical conditions prior to contracting the virus.
Ruelas, who is now engaged, says she’s trying to gain legal custody of her siblings — and is ‘happy to do it in the memory of my father.’
She is also caring for her 30-year-old sister who is hospitalized with the coronavirus and suffered a stroke.
‘It’s gonna be a struggle,’ Ruelas added. ‘I don’t have children of my own and now I know maybe this is the reason why.’
The family has started a GoFundMe campaign to help Ruelas care for her siblings, and it has raised more than $43,654 as of Thursday early evening.
Come Thursday, there had been 2,008,364 contractions in the US with over 116.016 deaths – as authorities now warn of a second wave as some workers are being forced to choose between their economic livelihood or health, or in some cases, mortality.