‘Words cannot describe’: Family loses 3 of 5 members to COVID-19 within days

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RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif. (KTLA) — A family of five from California lost three family members to COVID-19 within 10 days of one another.

John Albert Carrillo and his brother, Xavier Carrillo, laid their mother, father and sister to rest this week.

“I lost three — not just one but three — family members,” John Carrillo said.

John’s father, 93-year-old John Carrillo Sr., died on Sept. 15; his sister, 65-year-old Letecia Chavez, on Sept. 23; and his mother, 90-year-old Sally Carrillo, on Sept. 24.

Xavier Carrillo was the first to catch the virus back in August and believes he got it from friends at work. It quickly spread to his family.

While Xavier recovered, members of his family were hospitalized and within weeks, they passed away.

John Carrillo says he wants people to remember his family by the lives they lived and not just as statistics.

The brothers say their father was an army veteran, the first Mexican American drafted out of Riverside to the Korean War.

They described their mother as a generous woman who loved to cook.

And their sister, who was a mother and a grandmother, worked for Riverside City College until retirement.

“Words cannot describe my sister,” John Carrillo said. “Our leader, our backbone.”

John Carrillo had bid farewell to his mother over the phone but was able to say goodbye to his dad in person.

“I started crying and I told him, ‘If you want to leave dad, it’s okay. We’re all fine,’ ” he said in tears. “That was it.”

More than 218,000 Americans have died from the novel coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic. On Friday, the U.S. surpassed 8 million confirmed cases.

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