The terminally ill Corona man who enjoyed a tearful hospital−bed reunion with his Peruvian mother last month died Sunday after fighting AIDS and bone cancer, U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D−Bayside) said.
Walter Vergara, 50, died at Elmhurst Hospital Center, where his mother, 74−year−old Elizabeth Prado−Ocejo, first visited him April 4 after receiving a six−month visa with Ackerman’s help.
“This is the best day of my life,” Vergara told reporters at Elmhurst Hospital that day. “I feel such happiness.”
A wake for Vergara was scheduled for Wednesday at the Rivera Funeral Home in Corona. His funeral was set for Saturday in his native Peru. Vergara’s mother, who stayed with her son for the last month of his life, was scheduled to fly back to Lima Thursday.
“Although we all knew what would be the eventual outcome with Walter’s condition, we are extremely sad to learn about his passing,” Ackerman said in a statement. “But we will always be comforted in knowing that his dying wish of saying goodbye to his mother was finally fulfilled.”
Vergara was a naturalized U.S. citizen who came to Queens from Peru 21 years ago. He worked as a hair stylist at the Jackson Heights salon Zebra and lived in Flushing before moving to Corona five years ago.
Vergara was diagnosed with AIDS in 1995. Doctors told him six months ago that he also had bone cancer with little hope of recovery.
Vergara had no other relatives in the United States. Prado−Ocejo, a retired school teacher, said she initially had trouble getting the visa because of a misunderstanding with U.S. officials about the length of a visit she made to the country 20 years ago and enlisted Ackerman’s aid after being turned down.
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e−mail at jewalsh@cn
©2009 Community News Group
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