Hector Garcia’s family is distraught after his death last week of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
The Gainesville resident died of COVID-19 on Thursday, July 9.
Garcia, 30, was the second confirmed death in Cooke County. His sister Dalia Garcia said her younger brother’s death was the hardest thing she had to go through and that Hector’s rapid decline in health was shocking.
“It was tough not only because we lost him at such a young age,” Garcia said. “He went from perfectly healthy, to having a stomach ache on a Tuesday, to getting tested for COVID on Thursday and on Saturday we found out he tested positive. Then on Sunday he was in the emergency room and that was the last time I saw him.”
Hector spent his last few weeks at Medical City Denton beginning Sunday, June 14, and went into the intensive care unit Saturday, June 20.
Garcia was able to talk to him on the phone, but that changed when Hector went on a ventilator and a medically induced coma for two weeks.
“When they put him on the ventilator after he had been in the hospital for a week, we weren’t able to talk to him,” Garcia said. “We called the hospital two or three times a day and the doctor thought honestly that he was going to turn a corner. We thought his body would be able to hold on while his lungs healed, but his heart couldn’t take it any longer.”
When Garcia spoke with the doctor, he made it clear that Hector could pass at any moment.
“The fact that he was on 100% oxygen, if anything went wrong, they wouldn’t be able to do anything because he was in a high level of distress,” Garcia said. “We just kept praying and there was nothing we could do. We couldn’t even be there to hold his hand.”
The last time Garcia spoke to Hector was right before he went on a ventilator and the doctors had just told him that they were going to remove some fluid from his lungs.
“He told me that he didn’t wish this on anybody,” Garcia said. “He told me that it hurt a lot and that it hurt for him to breathe. We just did what we could to reassure him. The consolation we have is that for the past two weeks he didn’t feel any pain.”
When Hector died, Garcia said all she and her family wanted was a chance to properly say goodbye. Medical City Denton gave the family special permission to see him and Garcia said they were clad from head to toe in personal protective equipment.
“I’ll miss everything about him,” Garcia said. “He was the smartest person I’ve ever met. No matter what time, day or night, if his family needed him that he was there. His friends he’s had, he’s had since school. He was a champion for people that can’t defend themselves. He was a Black Lives Matter supporter, but he didn’t go to the protest because he was so adamant not to go to the protests to put our family at risk.”
The Garcia family will be holding off with a memorial until the pandemic becomes safe and Garcia said Hector was adamant that he wouldn’t have wanted to have a funeral and potentially put anyone in danger.
“He would hate it if someone got sick because of him,” Garcia said.
Hector worked for Gaming Capital Group, which performed repairs on slot machines at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, Oklahoma.
Garcia said that Hector worked for a week before WinStar opened. He was worried about going back to work and Garcia said that he would come home upset with how many people didn’t take the virus seriously.
“He told me that it was just a matter of time before somebody got sick,” Garcia said. “I don’t know if the casino wasn’t enforcing the rules or people just weren’t adhering to the rules. I know GCG was very strict. They didn’t use the break rooms. They ate in the cars. They wore masks and gloves. The made sure they had soap and sanitizer.”
A spokesman for the Chickasaw Nation, which operates the casino, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Garcia said Hector was extremely careful before and after he contracted COVID-19. He quarantined himself. He didn’t go anywhere without a mask and gloves.
Garcia said Hector would always go out of his way for anyone and that he had some good friends set up an online fundraising account that has already raised over $15,000 for his medical bills.
“That’s how much his friends loved him,” Garcia said. “It’s a salve to our broken hearts right now. He knew how much they loved him. It helps to know that we weren’t the only ones that loved him and that he impacted other people’s lives and that they were ready and willing to help.”
To donate to the fundraiser, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/in-loving-memory-of-hector-garcia-a-great-friend.
Garcia said she wants people to understand just how serious the virus can be and that she knows Hector is in a better place now.
“We’re sure he’s in heaven,” Garcia said. “He was just too good for this world. We didn’t deserve him. When I went to Tom Thumb, no one was wearing a mask. I asked someone to stay six feet away and she said it was ridiculous. It’s not ridiculous. People need to take this seriously. If he hadn’t been forced to go back to work, I truly believe he would still be here with me.”