SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Loved ones are making a vaccine plea after the COVID death of a Rancho Bernardo grandfather.
In mid-August, days after die-hard Raiders fan Gene Bencivenga and his wife got back from a weekend trip to Las Vegas for a pre-season game, he started feeling sick.
“He had a cough. Just feeling sluggish, really tired,” said his daughter, Alanna Bencivenga.
Alanna says both Gene and his wife Debbie tested positive for COVID-19.
Almost two weeks later, both were rushed to a hospital. While Debbie was released a week later, Gene was placed on a ventilator. Less than a week later, Gene, a father of five and grandfather of four, passed away at the age of 78.
“We saw him through a glass window, so it seems very surreal and terrible,” said Alanna.
Alanna calls her dad — a master electrician who owned his own electrical business — a devoted family man.
“He laughed a lot. He loved a lot. He loved people,” said Alanna.
Alanna says what he did not love were the COVID-19 vaccines.
“He didn't trust the side effects. He didn’t trust the newness of the vaccines,” said Alanna.
He thought the COVID-19 risk was overblown.
"He just didn't believe it was to the extent that it was being portrayed in media,” said Alanna.
Alanna says she and her mother were also vaccine-hesitant, but not anymore.
“My message is to get vaccinated. Even if you’re hesitant, do the research and trust that government is trying to stop this to save lives,” said Alanna.
Both Alanna and her mother, Debbie, are now planning to get vaccinated.
“You don't want to go through this. You don't want to lose a loved one. It happens so fast, and you think it can never happen to you … The next thing you know, you’re on the other side of it,” said Alanna.
A Gofundme campaign has been set up to help the family with expenses.