It's not the first time a family has spoken out about their loss due to COVID-19, hoping to get their message across about the importance of being vaccinated.
Now, an Imperial Beach mother is urging people to get vaccinated, after the death of her 35-year-old unvaccinated son.
"He was very special, he was a musician, he loved to play guitar, he loved to play piano, he loved to write his own music,” said Sheilah Young, “I think the most important thing is he was a man of God.”
Her son, Jimmy Contreras, planned to marry “the love of his life,” in July. Neither one was vaccinated and both got COVID-19. His fiancée, Sonia, recovered; but Jimmy ended up on a ventilator.
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“We had been pressuring them in phone calls and texts to get vaccinated. Do it for your family,” said Young who spoke about the frustration she sees often when unvaccinated people die of COVID.
Sonia's sister, Priscilla Aguilar echoed the frustration. "You can’t say like, ‘Oh, I’m fine, I’m strong, I’m healthy. It won’t happen to me,” said Aguilar. “He was really strong, a strong man. It can happen to anyone.”
Her sister was not allowed to get in the ICU to see Contreras because she was not vaccinated. “That’s another reason to get vaccinated,” she said. Young was allowed to see her son through the glass of the ICU. “That was the most horrific thing I’d ever seen, especially when you watch your own child struggle to breathe.”
Contreras died Aug. 2, nine days after first being admitted to the ICU. “This virus, it devoured his lungs, it devoured his lungs,” said Young, who said the virus did so much damage that even if he survived, she doubts he would ever be the same again.
“He was healthy, he was a non-smoker, he had no underlying conditions, he was an avid walker,” said Young. She and Aguilar hope people will hear their message to get vaccinated. "It’s real, it’s happening to so many families, that’s the only way to get rid of it is to get vaccinated,” said Aguilar.
Young said, “I never thought it was going to happen to our family you know, especially one of my kids and children. So, don’t fall into the Internet baloney and just go get vaccinated.”
Sonia and Contreras were living in Eureka when they got COVID-19. Sonia is now living with Contreras’ family members, who are trying to help her get back on her feet after her loss. Sonia now is vaccinated.