Man dies after family drove cross-country to get him home

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Andy’s last request was to come home from California. His family dropped everything and drove him home where he now lays surrounded by his mother Christina, right, brother Alex, center and sister Teresa, left, Andy rests at their home in Aurora on Wednesday, January 25, 2012. Andy found out his is in the final stages of liver failure after falling off a ladder in December. When he didn’t get better after a few weeks doctor’s told him and gave him less than a week to live. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media

Andy Zepeda – a 44-year-old former Auroran whose family made an emergency cross-country road trip to bring him back from California this week so he could die at home – died at 12:05 a.m. Friday at his parents’ home in west suburban Montgomery.

“Andy finished his first journey . . . and is now on his next journey,” said Pinky Zepeda, Andy’s uncle, who said he died “with all his family around him.”

For 32 hours straight, Andy’s brother Domonick and sisters Theresa and Rose, along with cousin Cindy Gonzales Martinez, drove nonstop from Palm Springs, where Andy had worked as a hotel concierge until he became gravely ill.

Andy fell from a ladder while hanging Christmas decorations at the California hotel in December. When he didn’t feel better weeks later, he returned to the doctor and discovered he was in the final stages of liver failure.

Told he had two to five days to live, Andy asked his mother Christina (Pat) and father Andy Sr. to bring him back to Aurora to die.

Because Andy was unable to fly, his large family back in the western suburbs immediately jumped into action in a quest to get him home before he died.

Funeral arrangements were pending, but a memorial will be at Dieterle Memorial Home.

Andy had no insurance so the Northern Illinois Tejano Cultural Society is holding a benefit featuring takeout and sit-down Mexican cuisine from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the VFW, 106 W. Indian Trail in Aurora. For more information, call society President Marcie Galicia at (630) 677-0651, or Pinky Zepeda at (630) 742-6811.

The Andy Zepeda Benefit Fund has been established c/o Cindy Edwards, Old Second National Bank, 1200 Douglas Road, Oswego, IL 60543.

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