Rogers Park street vendor passes away from virus days before getting COVID vaccine

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Rogers Park street vendor, Felipe Vallarta Rosales, was one of the people that recently passed away due to COVID-19.

"Every time he was out there selling, there was always people buying from him," said one customer.

Rosales was a beloved elotero, selling from his cart every day in Rogers Park with his wife by his side. Neighbors even knew him by name.

"It started with the elotes, and then my auntie started adding her tamales in there in the winter time," said another.

Rosales lost his job years ago and decided to sell elotes to make ends meet. The incredibly hard worker did everything he could to put food on the table even when his own health was deteriorating.

Late last month, just days before the 61-year-old was supposed to get the COVID-19 vaccine, he got COVID-19, and the virus was taking a toll. When he could not breathe, he was rushed to the hospital, but weeks later, was not getting better.

He knew the end was near. Then it was time to say goodbye as his close-knit family rushed to be at his bedside.

"We were very fortunate that everyone was able to get on Zoom and watch it," said Mercedes Vallarta, Rosales' niece. "It was very sad, and at the same time, a relief because we all to say goodbye."

Donations came pouring in when news of his ailing health spread. His family created a GoFundMe page for Rosales. With donations from generous friends, family and even complete strangers, Rosales' body can be sent back to his native Mexico to be buried alongside his family.

"It wasn't until he passed that we realized how much he was loved," said another niece, Paula Ramirez.

Rosales leaves behind a wife, children and several grandchildren both in the U.S. and in Mexico. His family is working on sending him back very soon.
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