ELMORE CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – An Oklahoma teen is searching for a way to cope after the death of her mother only months after losing her father and sister to COVID-19.
“I’m kind of worried about putting myself through college and just having her there just like for simple questions,” said Angelica Lara, wiping away tears.
Angelica’s mother died last Tuesday, within nine months of the deaths of her dad and sister.
“I don’t want to say I feel alone because like I have all these people, but I kind of do,” said the Elmore City High School student.
According to Angelica’s family, her 18-year-old sister, Liliana, died on Nov. 24, 2020, and Angelica’s father passed away a couple of weeks later on Dec. 8. He spent three weeks fighting the virus in the intensive care unit.
Angelica told KFOR that Liliana had respiratory problems, so her chances of surviving COVID-19 were limited. The COVID-19 vaccine was not available at the time of their deaths.
“I wish I said bye to my dad,” Angelica said. “That’s the only thing I really regret.”
Amanda Balbantin, Angelica’s aunt, is currently taking care of Angelica, who also has a 22-year-old brother.
“I told her… that I have your back until I take my last breath, and she told me to make please sure it’s a long time from now,” said Balbantin.
Balbantin told KFOR that Angelica’s mom didn’t die from COVID, but she blames a broken heart and a lack of ICU beds as factors.
“COVID didn’t take her, but it definitely had an impact because there is a possibility that if they could’ve found an ICU bed that she could still be here,” said Balbantin. “We don’t know why. But we know that we spent hours looking for an ICU bed.”
KFOR tried multiple times to confirm the family’s claims about ICU beds with the Oklahoma hospital. Despite several calls and an email, KFOR got no response.
The family told KFOR that Angelica and her mom became the best of friends after her dad and sister died.
“I just don’t think there are some things that we should have to go through and especially so close together,” said Angelica.
Balbantin said that Angelica, and the rest of their family, are now figuring out what’s next.
“She asked me the other day, she said, ‘Aunt Mannie, when I get married, who’s going to walk me down the aisle?” said Balbantin. “Kids don’t think of that, but she has to think of that now.”
The Elmore City High School has set up a bank account for Angelica’s senior fees.