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Limo driver who died of COVID-19 ‘contracted the virus after picking up Brazilian diplomats who were guests at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort’

  • President Trump hosted Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at his Mar-a-Lago resort on March 7; the event was also attended by Brazilian diplomats and aides
  • President Bolsonaro and one of the aides subsequently tested positive for COVID-19 
  • On March 8, San Francisco limo driver Calixto Villanueva, 67, picked up two diplomats who had been at the Mar-a-Lago event and chauffeured them around 
  • Just days later, he also came down with the coronavirus and passed away 
  •  Villanueva’s family have now filed a compensation claim against the limousine company’s insurer
  • Villanueva’s step-son, Crazy Rich Asians star Nico Santos, has paid heartbreaking tribute to his step-father 

A limousine driver who died from COVID-10 contracted the virus after picking up Brazilian diplomats who were guests at President Trump’s Mar-a-Largo resort. 

On March 8, Calixto Villanueva, 67, met the unidentified officials at San Francisco International Airport and drove them around the city, according to a worker’s compensation claim filed Thursday against the limo company’s insurer, Liberty Mutual.

The diplomats had flown in from Palm Beach, Florida, where they spent the previous evening at the Mar-a-Lago event held by Trump for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. 

An aide at that event subsequently tested positive for COVID-19, as did President Bolsonaro himself. 

Limousine driver Calixto Villanueva, 67, (left) contracted COVID-19 after driving around Brazilian diplomats who were guests at President Trump’s Mar-a-Largo resort back in early March. He died on March 27,  His wife, Tita Santos, (right) also become infected with the virus, but survived 

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (center) is pictured with President Trump (left) and Vice President Mike Pence (right) at Mar-a-Lago on March 7. He later tested positive to COVID-19

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (center) is pictured with President Trump (left) and Vice President Mike Pence (right) at Mar-a-Lago on March 7. He later tested positive to COVID-19

Legal documents, obtained by The Mercury News, state that Villanueva fell ill just days later, and was diagnosed with the coronavirus. His condition quickly deteriorated and he was admitted to an intensive care unit.  

Villanueva died in hospital on March 27 – less than three weeks after picking up the diplomats. 

The compensation claim also  reveals that Villanueva’s wife also became sick with COVID-19. She was ‘too weak to communicate with her dying husband in his final days’. 

Villanueva’s step-son is the actor, Nico Santos, best known for his starring roles in the film Crazy Rich Asians and the NBC sitcom Superstore. 

Villanueva's step-son is the actor, Nico Santos, best known for his starring roles in the film Crazy Rich Asians and the NBC sitcom Superstore

Villanueva’s step-son is the actor, Nico Santos, best known for his starring roles in the film Crazy Rich Asians and the NBC sitcom Superstore

He paid tribute to his step-father in an emotional post shared to Instagram on March 28.  

‘This is my stepdad Sonny and my mom Tita,’ he wrote beneath an old photo of his parent. 

‘My Tito Sonny passed away yesterday after losing his battle with COVID-19. He was a kind, caring man. Friendly to a fault. He always greeted strangers walking past him with a chipper ‘Good Morning!’ and a big smile. He had a great laugh that filled the room with joy.’

He added: ‘My mom is also fighting COVID-19. For the time being, she has not required hospitalization. The loss of my stepfather is devastating but what has gutted me is that this pandemic has kept my family apart. We were unable to be with him during his last days. I can’t hold my mother as she mourns her husband. I can’t hug my brother as he contemplates a world without his father. I can’t wipe away the tears from my nephews’ eyes as they wonder why their Lolo Sonny isn’t here anymore. ‘

The Santos-Villanueva family’s compensation claim has been filed by Pacific Workers’ of Oakland.

They are not seeking a specific amount of damages, and insist the claim is about companies being held accountable. 

Bilal Kassem, the family’s attorney from Pacific Workers’, told the Mercury News: ‘The frontline and essential workers are getting hit much harder than anyone else in our community. We must do more to protect them and their families. 

This is simply a total failure of a system that is supposed to protect people’. 

Santos is seen  at left in an episode of his hit NBC series Superstore

Santos is seen  at left in an episode of his hit NBC series Superstore

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