Remembering those lost in the pandemic one year later

Remembering those lost in the pandemic
Posted at 1:02 PM, Mar 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-09 21:20:10-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A year after the first local COVID-19 case was reported, nearly 3,400 lives have been lost to the pandemic.

Elvira Martinez was just 29 when she died in September. Her boyfriend Ricardo Ferreyra says it was love at first sight eight years ago. He was planning to propose on a sailboat.

"I'm heartbroken, in a million pieces. She was my soulmate and the most wonderful person in the world. We had so many plans," said Ferreyra.

TIMELINE: COVID-19 pandemic begins forcing San Diego closures

In Nestor, Juan and Blanca Rodriguez, who met in middle school and married five years later, ended up in two different hospitals. On a Sunday in early February, family members organized a virtual goodbye over Zoom.

"My mom was on the Zoom call, and my mom told my dad that she was happy to share her life with my dad, and she thanked him for being the love of her life," said their daughter, Blanca Velazquez.

The next day, the couple, both 67, would die three hours apart.

In La Mesa, Bob Kruse, 62, was placed on a ventilator on Christmas and never recovered. His daughter Heather Stiles says the longtime Goodwill employee began his career loading and unloading donations before working his way up to the Director of Facilities.

"He was the person you called when you needed help," said Stiles.

In Skyline Hills, San Diego native Arnie Robinson Jr., 72, who claimed an Olympic gold medal in the long jump at the '76 Olympics, was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2004. His cancer was in remission when he died of COVID-19.

"After the cancer diagnosis, he did all the treatments and a complete 180 on his diet. He viewed it as a challenge. He loved challenges. The way he died is just so devastating," said son Paul Robinson.

Of all those lost in the county, nearly half are Hispanic or Latino.

In Chula Vista, a family was left reeling, after Monica Covarrubias, 35, a mother of three passed away in January, days after her father’s COVID death, and months after her uncle’s death.

In La Jolla, Army and Navy veteran John Martinez, who helped maintain ventilators at the VA Medical Center, died at the age of 63. He had planned on retiring before he turned 64.

In City Heights, Barbara Rodriguez says her father, veteran professional wrestler Martin Rodriguez, 53, known as ‘Espantito’ or ‘The Terror,’ was loving and caring outside the ring.

“He helped me become the person that I am,” she said.

In San Marcos, great-grandmother Gregoria Osorio, 78, was known for her tamales and mole. Her granddaughter Nubia Cruz says the longtime midwife from Mexico, leaves behind a lasting legacy.

“She delivered more than a thousand babies,” said Cruz.

In the College Area, a month after Taurino Rivera, 57, delivered an impassioned sermon at the Fe Esperanza Y Amor church — which he founded 9 years ago — he died of COVID-19. His son Daniel, also a pastor, has vowed to keep his church open.

Amid so much loss, examples of communities coming together. There have been countless Gofundme campaigns organized to help grieving families, along with other fundraisers.

In Vista, 17-year-old Anabelle Huizar made and sold homemade Mexican candy, raising more than $1,000 for the funeral expenses for her grandfather Ramon Ruiz, 69.

“We needed somewhere we can all go have that peace with him,” said Huizar.