Former Turlock resident Jerry Esteves, who was injured during a trip to the Virgin Islands, was focused on the goal of getting home. He came so close.
Esteves’ story came to a sad end Wednesday when he passed away on the flight home.
“It is so very sad,” said Esteves’ longtime friend Ron Caballero. “The only positive is that he is no longer in pain and no longer suffering.”
Esteves had been vacationing with his family in the Virgin Islands. It was a trip that had been long talked about, but finally put into action when Esteves’ health began to fail. He had a kidney transplant 16 years ago and the medications to keep him from rejecting the organ had caused other health issues, explained his wife Eni Esteves.
On July 7 he was seriously injured when his wheelchair went off a curb while exploring the Virgin Islands, and sent him falling to the ground. Esteves sustained a shattered pelvis from the fall and found himself confined to a hospital bed.
Esteves’ family wanted to get him back home to Manteca so that he would get better medical care and make his recuperation at home, but the cost of getting him home via a medical flight seemed like an insurmountable challenge.
“First we were told it would cost around $80,000 then $55,000,” said Eni Esteves.
A Go Fund Me account was started for the family to help with the costs associated with his accident and the return journey home.
There was an issue of getting medical clearance to fly home and finally the family was told he was stable enough to fly home, but only on a first class ticket, which would allow him the room he needed.
Esteves, along with his son and wife, left the Virgin Islands on Wednesday and sometime during the flight he passed away, Caballero said.
“He was excited to finally be coming home, but he also was in a lot of pain,” Caballero said.
Esteves, 62, was a former Turlock Police officer and spent 20 years as a counselor with Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Turlock.
In one of his final posts on Facebook, Esteves wrote: “I'm headed home. Because of the overwhelming generosity of my friends and family I have had the comfort of my wife during this long and painful journey.”
A funeral service is planned for Esteves at Sacred Heart Church in Turlock at noon on Aug. 6.