San Diego

Man Killed in Shed Collapse Was ‘Careful to a Fault,' Family Says

For the first time, the family of the man who died after a shed collapsed on top of him last week is speaking publicly about the accident.

Paul Sandoval, 33, was demolishing a shed Wednesday in La Mesa when the structure collapsed while he was inside.

When Heartland Fire Department medics found Sandoval in the collapsed structure on Johnson Drive, he had no pulse. They were able to resuscitate him on the way to the hospital but ultimately his life could not be saved.

The beam that ran along the pitch of the shed’s roof landed on his back near his lungs and suffocated him, Sandoval’s family said. 

The lack of oxygen severely damaged his brain, his younger brother Jimmy said.

"Paul was my best friend since birth. I looked up to him. I was very inspired by him," Jimmy said.

Jimmy described Sandoval as careful to a fault.

He was working alone on the shed, though, and in those precious moments, no one was there to help him.

Jimmy said he’s worked with his brother on many construction jobs. From what he's been told about the accident, it appears Sandoval was either trying to run out of the structure at the time of the collapse, or the material came down on top of him while his back was turned to it.

Sandoval had three children and a wife of nine years, Mariah. They’ve shared countless adventures together, including English teaching stints in Thailand and Morocco.

“He just did well. He was just good and you could tell when you talked to him," Mariah said.

Their third son, Paul Jr., was born this year just before the couple's 10th anniversary.

In life, Sandoval was a dedicated family man, a hard worker and a provider, his family said.

In death, Mariah says her husband was still providing for others.

"They were able to take both kidneys and his liver and they were super healthy and his kidney was just transplanted into somebody today at 3 p.m.,” Mariah said.

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