Thomas Lopez, who ran a fleet of Tacos El Tajin food trucks around Seattle, has died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, his family announced Monday afternoon.
After suffering flu-like symptoms, Lopez, 44, was hospitalized last week and put on a ventilator, but his condition got worse and he died on Thursday, his son Isaac Lopez said.
Lopez made national headlines in February 2017 for hawking tacos out of his food truck on Interstate 5 after a semitruck rolled over and brought traffic to a standstill. After realizing he would not make it to South Lake Union for the Amazon lunch rush and seeing how drivers around him were losing their patience, Lopez got out and started selling steak and chicken tacos to commuters as if he were parked in a food-truck pod.
In a tribute to his father, the younger Lopez wrote online, “When I think about my dad, first thing that comes to mind is how much he enjoyed going to work every day and made the best out every situation.”
The family started a GoFundMe to try to raise $10,000 to pay for the funeral and also to keep Lopez’s three food trucks along with his Mexican restaurant in Algona afloat during the coronavirus outbreak. All the businesses are temporary closed.
Lopez, a Pacific resident, is survived by his wife Antonia Zamorano and their five children. Lopez’s wife has tested positive for the coronavirus but does not show any of the flu-like symptoms, the family said.
Lopez’s passing follows the deaths of two others the Seattle restaurant community has lost recently — Elizabeth and Robert Mar of Kona Kitchen succumbed to the novel coronavirus in late March.