APPLE VALLEY – An Apple Valley family is faced with heartaches beyond what any family should ever face this year. First the sudden loss of the family patriarch, then the sudden loss of a child/sibling and now the continued separation of his two toddlers.
On January 29, 2016, 63-year-old Apple Valley resident Felix Frank Rivera was crossing Highway 18 on his way to Walmart. When he stepped into traffic he was struck by a vehicle which threw his body into the path of a second vehicle. Rivera was pronounced dead at the scene and the family was left to mourn the tragic loss.
Just a few short months later on Friday, May 5, 2016, another family member, Rivera’s stepson, fell ill and was hospitalized. Gilbert Bustillos, a 33-year-old father of two toddlers was rushed to St. Mary’s Hospital unable to breathe due to his severe asthma and a lung infection. He was then transported to a hospital in San Diego so he was able to receive the higher level of care that he needed.
His medical condition was unstable during his stay and he took his last breath on May 24, 2016. Before his death, Gilbert was working hard to get his children out of foster care. The children, 2-year-old Malakie and 1-year-old Summer were placed in foster care at birth due to the alleged drug abuse by their mother during her pregnancies with them. The children’s mother according to the Bustillos family is not fighting for custody of the children as she remained under the influence of drugs.
Gilbert, before his hospitalization was taking the court ordered classes and doing what was required of him to gain custody of his children. Now after his death, the woman who lost both a husband and son is left to fight for her grandchildren.
At this time the family only receives limited visitation of the two toddlers. “We all love his kids dearly,” said John Bustillos. The family is asking for support by signing the Change.org petition to help get his children in the custody of a qualified family member.
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