CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) - Family members are mourning the COVID-19 death of a South Bay father of four and nephew of the late sand artist known as the "Coronado Sandman."
Louie Avila Jr. first felt sick on December 11th.
"It was weakness, dizziness, coughing, and his feet were purple," said Elsa Mercado, Avila's sister.
Mercado says in the next week, he was in and out of the ER, after testing positive for COVID-19.
Then, a day after tests showed his lungs were in good shape, there was another result.
"This time COVID pneumonia all in his lungs, from one night to the next," said Mercado.
Avila was admitted, and less than two weeks later, he was placed on a ventilator.
"It was heartbreaking that he was there, and I wasn’t there to hold his hand," said a tearful Mercado.
Last Friday night, Avila, a father of four, including two teenagers, died at the age of 44.
"I can’t begin to describe the hurt. It wasn’t how his story was supposed to end," said Mercado.
Avila was the nephew of Alberto Avila, also know as the 'Coronado Sandman,' known for his sand-inspired street art. He passed from liver cancer in 2019. Two years later, the family is grieving another loss.
"He loved his children, always had time for them," said Marcelo Avila, Avila's oldest son.
He calls Avila a great dad and entrepreneur.
"Very outgoing and charismatic guy, a people person," said Marcelo.
Avila owned a business that sold post-surgical shape wear.
His sister says Avila suffered from a heart condition, and was diligent about wearing masks. She believes he may have contracted the
virus from his roommate, a health care worker, who also tested positive.
On this day, Mercado was watching, as president-elect Joe Biden remembered those lost to COVID-19.
"I hope he’s able to help people to understand. So many people are suffering heartbreak. This is very real. Please do everything you can to help save a life," said Mercado.
A Gofundme campaign has been set up to help the family with expenses.