Couple dies days apart from COVID-19 leaving oldest daughter to care for 5 younger siblings

Life for Maria Ruelas will never be the same. In a matter of days the 35-year-old has had to deal with loss and new beginnings after the deaths of her father and step-mother.

“Within six days, I lost my father. And within eight hours, I lost my stepmother. And now I have five kids,” she told KTLA.


Karina Bonilla, 38, Ruelas’ step-mother, began feeling ill first. It’s believed she contracted COVID-19 from work.

“She went to work and in less than a week she started presenting symptoms,” Ruelas said. “She went home and then my father started getting sick.”

Within days, Humberto Ruelas-Rivas, 60, died due to complications from the virus.


The following day, hours after Ruelas-Rivas died, Bonilla also died.

“I hope this story doesn’t repeat again. It’s devastating.”

And now Ruelas is left to take care of her five younger siblings, ages 2 to 17, and a 30-year-old sister who is currently hospitalized with COVID-19 and suffered a stroke.

The 35-year-old, who is engaged, must now rethink her future as she plans to gain custody of her siblings.

“I’m happy to do it in the memory of my father.”

A GoFundMe has been set up to help cover medical expenses and funeral costs.

This is such a tragic situation, and what’s even worse is that there are likely many stories like this one.

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