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Educator known as ‘father figure’ to students among 2 more LCPS employees to die of Covid-19

Christopher Sarmiento
Mary Sarmiento
Christopher Sarmiento, 33, taught social studies and coached football at Vista Middle School.

UPDATE: LCPS officials on Monday afternoon said two additional employees had now died of Covid-19, marking the sixth and seventh deaths of educators in the district from the virus since November.

As ABC-7 had reported earlier Monday, Chris Sarmiento, 33, was a teacher and a football coach at Vista Middle School.

The additional death was that of Beatrice Ramirez, 58, a nutrition services employee at Valley View Elementary who had worked for the district since 2002, officials said.

Both school employees died over the weekend, the district said.

ORIGINAL REPORT: LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- Before dying of Covid-19, Christopher Sarmiento was a loving teacher, coach and father of three, his wife told ABC-7.

“He grew up without his father," explained his wife, Mary Sarmiento. "He wanted to be a father figure for those kids that didn’t have one.”

Sarmiento, 33, taught social studies to 6th and 7th grade students at Vista Middle School in Las Cruces. He also coached 8th grade football, passionate about inspiring players to excel in academics.

“He wanted to tell them it was important to be a good athlete, but also a good student," his wife said.

Sarmiento is the sixth educator in the Las Cruces Public Schools district to die from Covid-19.

Prior to his time in Las Cruces, Sarmiento taught at Anthony High School in Texas, his wife said. He also tutored at Bowie High School in El Paso and completed his student teaching at Brown Middle School.

“The reason why he taught is because he followed in his grandfather’s footsteps," Sarmiento said.

She told ABC-7 that her husband's grandfather, Tula Irraboli, was a passionate advocate of children. In El Paso, Irraboli worked with Father Harold Rahm to help at-risk youth find motivation to succeed in athletics.

There is a park named after Irraboli south of downtown El Paso, along Father Rahm Avenue.

Sarmiento's wife said his family was not aware that the educator was positive for Covid-19 when he received the vaccine. She said he "became ill the next day" and when his symptoms worsened, the family took him to the emergency room.

She said he was on a ventilator for several days and his symptoms improved.

"He was getting better and everyone was getting so hopeful," she said. "He was able to talk to us."

However, Sarmiento's wife said her loving husband's health declined after his removal from the ventilator.

"His heart couldn’t take it anymore," Sarmiento said. "It was difficult."

Sarmiento has two daughters that are 12 and seven years old, his wife said. His youngest son, Christopher Jr., is just one year old.

"On behalf of our department, we offer our sincere condolences to the family and former colleagues of Mr. Sarmiento," wrote a spokesman for the New Mexico Department of Health. "COVID-19 vaccines are safe. While there have been instances in the United States where a person has died of COVID-19 after being vaccinated, no evidence exists indicating COVID vaccinations have played any role in the death of a vaccinated individual." 

You can help his family at this fundraising link.

Coronavirus / New Mexico / News / Top Stories / Video

Kate Bieri

Kate Bieri is ABC-7’s New Mexico Mobile Newsroom reporter and co-anchors ABC-7’s weekend evening newscasts.

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