(From left to right) J.R. De Alba, 6, with his father, Rico De Alba, 43, of Lawndale, along with his cousin, James Blandon, 3. Blandon and his four sisters, Alya, Jocelyn, Luz and Melody, were adopted by Rico De Alba and his wife, Guissell, after their father, Marlon Blandon, 36, of Lehi Utah, died of COVID-19 in July. (Photo courtesy of Rico De Alba)

Friends step up to help Lawndale couple who adopted 5 children of relative who died of coronavirus

in Kids

Bartender Rico De Alba, 43, his wife and stay-at-home mom Guissell Maradiaga, 40, and their four kids were hosting her brother’s five children in Lawndale, when their father, Marlon Blandon, called from Lehi, Utah, in July to tell them he had COVID-19. The 36-year-old diabetic’s health rapidly declined over the next few days.

“He called us on Facetime from the hospital once, and he fainted,” Rico De Alba said. “We were praying and praying that he would be OK, but that’s when we started to realize he might not survive this.”

Blandon was hooked up to a ventilator following that incident. He then died about three weeks after he was diagnosed with the virus.

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