Click photo to enlarge
Andrea Beade, of Brentwood, is visited by husband Alonzo Felix and son Daniel Felix, 7, as she recovers at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, Calif., on Friday June 28, 2013. The family was involved in an accident in Brentwood two weeks ago when their van was broadsided by a red light runner on Vasco Road, killing the woman who hit them and sending all six members of the family to the hospital. Andrea, who was four months pregnant, lost the baby in the wreck. Friday was the first time her son Daniel had seen his mother since the wreck. (Dan Rosenstrauch/Bay Area News Group)

BRENTWOOD -- Life was difficult enough for Alonzo Felix and his wife before their brutal encounter with a red-light runner two weeks ago.

The 43-year-old former farmworker from Brentwood hasn't had a permanent job since injuring his back 11 years ago; he's made do with odd jobs -- collecting and recycling scrap metal, cleaning houses, fixing cars, landscaping, and the occasional carpentry gig for construction companies.

Andrea Beade, 39, packed fruit on a local farm for $8 an hour, but that doesn't go far when the work is seasonal and there are four boys under the age of 15 to feed and clothe.

"It's very, very difficult, (but) I figure it out," Alonzo said in Spanish.

But the couple's circumstances suddenly became even tougher June 15, when a car slammed into their 1998 Dodge Caravan at the intersection of Marsh Creek and Vasco roads, sending the entire family to the hospital and killing the Félixes' unborn son.

The solo driver of the other vehicle also died in what was the first fatality on the Contra Costa County stretch of Vasco Road since the beginning of the year.

Alonzo and Andrea had gotten up that morning planning to go to San Jose, where they'd have a breakfast of barbecue ribs and then take the children for pony rides at the flea market.

They had driven all of five miles when the outing came to an abrupt end.


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"All of a sudden I felt the impact. The car showed up out of nowhere," recalled Felix, who was in the driver's seat. "The window broke and I felt (the glass) on my arms. That's when I lost consciousness."

Now recuperating at home, he had come downstairs to talk with a visitor about the crash. The diminutive man took slow, painful steps to the couch, still wearing hospital identification bracelets.

Flying glass had left dark slashes on Felix's left arm above the elbow, and moving his fingers sent pain radiating up both sides of it. His right arm was equally immobilized and fractured ribs made it difficult to breathe when he tried to sleep.

"It hurts all the time. There's time when it hurts even a lot more," Felix said.

Although the last two boys were released from Children's Hospital Oakland on June 21, Beade remains at John Muir Medical Center and doctors aren't saying when she'll be discharged.

When the conversation turned to his wife, Felix's usually reserved demeanor changed.

There was a long pause as he struggled to maintain his composure, then asked for a drink of water before continuing.

Beade, who had been four months' pregnant with their fifth son, lost the baby in the accident in addition to sustaining a broken leg and ribs.

"It really hurts," Felix said.

In time, the physical wounds will heal and a sense of normalcy will return, but the financial repercussions could last longer.

Although the rest of Felix's family is covered by Medi-Cal, he is not, and doctors predict that it will take at least six months for him to recover fully.

Meanwhile, there's $1,144 in rent to pay for their three-bedroom apartment along with all of life's other necessities.

And yet Felix's Christian faith remains unshaken; he said he's trusting God to provide for his family and harbors no anger toward the other driver.

He also has been surprised by the emotional and tangible support that people are offering; friends held a fundraiser June 23 to help the family with its bills, and members of his church have been taking turns doing household chores, cooking meals, and caring for the boys, who range in age from 4 to 14.

"With this tragedy I realize we have a lot more family than we actually thought," Felix said. "Because of this (accident) we have received so much love."

Some say that Felix and his wife are only reaping what they have sown, however.

"He's a very responsible person," said the Rev. Olman Solis, pastor of Oakley's St. Anthony Catholic Church, where Felix and his family are active members.

Felix is a man of his word, he said, faithful to duties that include teaching weekly catechism classes for youngsters preparing to receive their first Communion.

Andrea is a lector, reading Scriptural passages during Mass once or twice a month, and their oldest, Jonathan, helps his father with administrative tasks during the classes.

But it's not just the couple's level of involvement in church activities that impresses friends -- it's that they give from the heart.

"When people have some problems (Alonzo's) trying to help them, listen to them," Solis said.

Felix also is a man of action when someone has a tangible need, and parishioner Elsa Vega said if that means fixing something that's beyond his considerable ability, he'll find someone who can.

"If you give a lot of love this is what you get back," said Enrique Oropeza.

"That's why the community responded to him the way it did. These are the results when you give love and time."

Contact Rowena Coetsee at 925-779-7141. Reach her at Twitter.com/RowenaCoetsee.

TO HELP
Those wishing to help the Felix family can make a donation in Alonzo's name at any Wells Fargo bank by referencing account #290-9714228.