He was born two months premature during an emergency delivery at Valley Medical Center early Wednesday morning, just as his mother Dulce Capetillo lay dying in the operating room.
“That’s all she ever wanted, was to hold her baby in her arms,” Ashley Moore, one of Dulce’s best friends, said Thursday as the heartbreaking story spread through social media.
Christopher remained in critical condition Thursday, as friends, family and strangers opened their hearts and offered their support to Capetillo’s family as they grieved the 18-year-old mother-to-be and prayed for the fragile life she delivered.
Capetillo’s uncle, Rodrigo Hernandez, said the infant appeared to be “doing good right now.”
“The big concern is his brain,” Hernandez said. “They want to make sure there is no brain trauma. But he looks big and healthy.”
Moments after his birth, Christopher was whisked to the neonatal unit, said Jose Gonzalez, a supervisor for the company that owns the Taco Bell restaurants where Capetillo and her fiance, Pedro Cortes, worked the late shifts.
Capetillo’s parents were with her just before she died in the operating room, said Gonzalez, who spoke with family friends Thursday.
“I love you,” she told her dad, according to Gonzalez. “Am I going to be OK?”
Her father reassured her, Gonzalez said. Then she was gone.Cortes, 20, arrived too late to see her before she died at 5:30 a.m., two-and-half hours after the car she was riding in with her brother crashed into a parked car on the shoulder of the highway.
Capetillo’s 20-year-old brother, Carlos Capetillo-Hernandez, was in the driver’s seat and was rushed to Regional Medical Center across town with moderate internal injuries.
He had picked up his sister from work at the Taco Bell in Morgan Hill, where she finished well past midnight after cleaning up. The two were wearing their seat belts and were on their way in their Honda Civic to get Cortes at the Alum Rock restaurant when the crash occurred at 1:50 a.m.
CHP officials say they were driving north on Highway 101 near Tully Road and smashed into a BMW that was parked on the shoulder by 22-year-old Hung Tran, of San Jose. Why he was parked on the shoulder wasn’t clear, but Tran was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and also admitted to Regional Hospital where he was treated for minor injuries.
When Capetillo and her brother didn’t arrive and Cortes couldn’t reach them by phone, he ended up walking home, Gonzalez said. His aunt told him they needed to rush to the hospital.
What exactly caused Capetillo’s death has not been released, but Gonzalez was told her ribs had been broken during the crash.
Both Capetillo and Cortes were hard workers, Moore said, working long hours at Taco Bell to build a life for their growing family.
They were living with Cortes’ parents in East San Jose.
“She would say, ‘My main challenge is to provide everything for my son,’ ” Moore said. “That was her goal — her son, her son, her son.”
Gonzalez, who works for Tambro, Inc., the franchise owner of the two Taco Bells, said he was putting out donation boxes on the Taco Bell counters around town. Tambro plans to match all donations, he said. The company is also giving Cortes paid time off, he said.
In messages Capetillo posted on Instagram a couple of weeks before she died, she wrote about her love for Cortes, whom she called “my King,” and the baby on the way she called her “lil prince.”
“Love you so much Mi amor,” she wrote in a post when she was 30 weeks pregnant. “Can’t wait until we both see our son Christopher luis …”
Moore said she and Capetillo had been close friends since fifth-grade and met up again after Capetillo transferred from Independence High to San Jose High two years ago. Capetillo’s nickname was “Dimplezz” because of her dimpled smile. Moore was called “Gigglezz” for her laugh.
“She wanted to become a wife. She wanted to have her own house,” Moore, 18, said. “She was like, I really want my baby to hurry up and come because I just can’t wait to hold him and feel him and see what he looks like.
“I told her I hope he looks like you.”
Staff writer Mark Gomez contributed to this report. Contact Julia Prodis Sulek at 408-278-3409. Contact Mark Gomez at 408-920-5869..