Pasadena mom infected with COVID-19 at 24 weeks pregnant with 6th child before dying

PASADENA, Texas (KTRK) -- A family shares their tragic story of a pregnant mother who died after suffering from pneumonia due to COVID-19.

Rico Hernandez and his wife Crystal both grew up in Pasadena.

"We started dating in the ninth grade and have been together ever since," Hernandez said.

Together, they had five children and Crystal was pregnant with their sixth child.

"She was always very, very, very loving," Hernandez said describing his wife. "She was goofy. She was always playing around. Always had a big smile and she loved to laugh. She loved to have a good time. Play around and have fun."

Hernandez said right after New Year's Day, the duo tested positive for COVID-19.

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She wanted to wait until after giving birth to get vaccinated, but she caught the virus first.

"She started feeling chest tightness and then her breathing got really, really short and really, really bad. Like she was struggling to talk," Hernandez said.

Hernandez said the two were not vaccinated based on their beliefs.

"Me and my wife, we talked about it," Hernandez said. "She was pregnant and so she had some concerns. It all happened so fast and it was being pushed on us very fast and she just didn't want -- she didn't feel comfortable and so I wasn't going to go against her wishes."

They decided Crystal needed to be hospitalized. Hernandez said Crystal ended up transferring to another hospital, where they told them Crystal had pneumonia due to COVID-19. Days later, doctors performed an emergency C-section to deliver their son, Koda, at 25 weeks.

"They said that she did fine during the emergency C-section," Hernandez said. "And that she was aware afterward and that they were able to tell her she had a healthy baby boy."

Hernandez said over the next two weeks, he received updates from his wife's doctors stating that her condition was improving, then suddenly Crystal's condition took a turn for the worse.

"We didn't get to see her until she was close," Hernandez said. "I wish I would have hugged her tighter and held her long before I let her walk through those sliding doors."

Crystal was just 27 years old when she passed away. Her newborn baby is still in the NICU, but Hernandez said he is very strong and doing well.

Hernandez says his oldest child, Sophia, gave him the strength to share Crystal's story. She said she wants people to know who her mommy was.

"I tell my babies to be proud of their mom because she was very strong and she fought until the very end," he said.

A close friend of the family set up this GoFundMe page to help give Crystal a proper resting place.

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