After being turned away by the owner of a local gas station, the family of , a 19-year-old Baldwin Park resident last week, to raise funds for funeral expenses. The event was held today from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Victor Villa restaurant in West Covina.
The event had to be moved from an originally planned location at the parking lot of the restaurant on Ramona Blvd, when the owner of a station complained about possible business losses at the property.
The gas station owner told Patch.com Del Taco could not do anything about the situation.
Del Taco Corporate Headquarters could not be reached after hours to comment, but Eva Rocha, cousin of the victim, said she had found a local Burger King which was willing to host the fundraiser, however, she could not secure a permit from City Hall in time.
“I think that in time of need, we as humans should try to help each other out. Money comes and goes and it’s a shame how it changes people. If I see someone who needs food, I will give them part of my food, you can’t just walk by, it’s the humanly thing to do.”
Rocha said she talked to the owner of Victor Villa over the phone who told her there would not be any problem hosting the carwash at that location. “He was very sympathetic. If it wasn’t for him, we would not be having this today,” she said.
Rocha said this has been a very difficult time for the family, especially the boy’s mother. “We have all been praying for strength and for her,” she said, adding the most difficult aspect has been losing such a well loved person at such an early age. “He was just a likable person, you can see he had a great inviting smile,” she said pointing to a photograph on a sign.
Family members sold black ribbons which Rocha made for a dollar a piece, trying to collect as much money for expensive funeral arrangements. “You are never prepared for something like this to happen, you are never ready to say goodbye. The worst thing has been seeing the family in such pain, and not being able to do something about it, losing a son is the worst thing that can happen, I feel so bad for my aunt, it’s obviously the worst pain you can feel in life.”
Lupian, a graduate of Sierra Vista High School had a lot of friends, he was planning to graduate from Citrus College in 2013 where he was studying to complete a master certification for automotive repair.
“It was messed up what happened to him,” said classmate Nick Avila. “I had just talked to him last week, we were both talking about our cars."
Andrew Bettridge, was another of Lupian’s school friends. He wrote out “We miss you man!” on the window of his truck in memory of Lupian. “Summer school starts on Monday and now it’s going to feel very weird with him not being there,” he said.
Edwin Antunez, a 16-year old Sierra Vista student and neighborhood friend of Lupian’s said he attended the car wash to help out the family as much as he could. Another friend, 17-year-old Ramon Rodriguez said, “He was very cool to be with, he was nice to hang out with, he was barely growing up.”
This Sunday June 24 at the Baldwin Park's on Ramona Blvd. friends will have another car wash event from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Daniel Gallardo, Lupian’s cousin said he was happy to see all the support from friends and family members, but that it was a very painful time for the family. “It’s very difficult seeing my aunt hurt, right now everybody’s hurting.”