Hemet family struggling to find funeral home to help with cremation of loved one lost to COVID-19

HEMET, Calif. (KABC) -- A Southern California family is struggling to bury a beloved veteran, father and grandfather who died from COVID-19.

Manny Garcia, 49, was feeling fine up until the end of this past January.

Melissa Ryan, his fiancée, says the family figured he came down with the flu. First, the family says he was experiencing severe body aches. Then he got worse.

Ryan says they were trying to figure out all of the symptoms.

"A lot of the symptoms are just like your normal flu. And so it was actually the morning that we took him to the hospital that he was complaining that he couldn't breathe," she said.

While in the hospital, Melissa says they were able to have Zoom visits and talk over the phone, until he was placed on a ventilator.

Manny talked about wanting to return to mountain bike riding with the kids when he got out of the hospital.

"His last words were 'Do what you have to do to keep me alive.' So it's been really hard on all of us," Ryan said.

Manny died on Feb. 19. His fiancée says the family has been looking for a mortuary to handle his cremation, but haven't had any luck.

"I've called over 100 and the majority of them tell me we're sorry, we're at maximum capacity," she told Eyewitness News, adding that she's even contacted mortuaries that offer services specifically for veterans.

But, she says, even the ones that do have enough capacity are too expensive.

The family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with funeral costs.

The loss of Manny's brother to COVID-19 a few weeks before he did has only added to the family's pain.

The former Marine leaves behind his fiancée, 7 children, 3 grandchildren and another grandchild on the way.

His family is hoping to find a funeral home soon that'll work with them to put Manny to rest.
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