Fla. Mom Whose Husband Died in Construction Accident Welcomes Their First Son Exactly 1 Week Later

Gabriel Tomas Alvarez entered the world one week to the minute after his dad died, his mom Grace Sotolongo-Alvarez tells PEOPLE

Gabe and Grace Alvarez
Grace Sotolongo-Alvarez with their son Gabriel, a photo of her late husband Gabe, and her sister. Photo: Courtesy

The Florida mom whose husband died in a construction accident just days before they welcomed their second child is now hoping to carry on his legacy with the newest addition to their family.

Grace Sotolongo-Alvarez was just days away from her scheduled cesarean section when her construction worker husband, Gabriel "Gabe" Alvarez, died on the job on Oct. 25. He was 43.

Exactly one week later, on Nov. 1, Grace welcomed her and Gabe's second child into the world — their first son, Gabriel Tomas Alvarez, sweetly named after his late father.

Grace, 33, tells PEOPLE that her son took his first breath at 1:05 p.m. — the same exact time that Gabe took his final breath just one week prior.

"As a 'Believer,' I see no coincidence," she explains. "I know he's been with me the entire time. Gabriel looks just like him. I will make sure he knows what an incredible husband, father, brother, son and friend he was, and I will do my best to raise him in the manner Gabe would have wanted."

Gabe and Grace Alvarez
Baby Gabriel. Courtesy

Gabe was working construction on the roadway of the Biscayne Bay Campus entrance at Florida International University when heavy equipment fell on top of him and a coworker just before 1 p.m., ABC affiliate WPLG reported, citing North Miami Police.

Police said one of the two men — later identified as Gabe — was pronounced dead at the scene, while the other worker, whose identity and condition were not released, was immediately rushed to a local hospital, according to the outlet.

In the days that followed, Gabe's grieving wife says she focused her attention on "delivering a healthy baby" and being "as strong as possible" for their 5-year-old daughter Gracie, as well as Gabe's 12-year old daughter, Gianna, from a previous marriage.

"Knowing how hard this has hit both Gracie and Gianna breaks my heart so much," says Grace, who referred to the accident as the "worse day of my life" in a post on Facebook.

Gabe and Grace Alvarez
Baby Gabriel. Courtesy
Gabe and Grace Alvarez
Grace Sotolongo-Alvarez with baby Gabriel. Courtesy

When it finally came time to welcome their son, Grace found a special way to incorporate Gabe's presence in the hospital room, despite his not being physically present.

"I had a photo of him next to me, which was taken when Gracie was born," she explains of the image, which showed Gabe in hospital scrubs. "It was my idea. I had to be 'calm' and try to be at peace to bring Gabriel Tomas into the world."

"The image was for me to be able to look up and see the face I adore, who has always been my ride or die," she adds. "He would've been there if he hadn't been taken from us, so I had to make sure I could 'see him.'"

Gabe and Grace Alvarez
Gabriel Alvarez with his daughters and wife Grace. Courtesy

Now at home with her "tiny and adorable" newborn, Grace says she's focused on raising her kids and making sure they know how special their father was.

"It's been two weeks and it all seems surreal. I have moments where I feel I have to be strong and accept it because I am a mother and can't fall apart," she explains. "But others, I can't bear my reality. The love of my life was taken from me in an instant... A piece of me is gone."

"Under the circumstances, I'm holding baby Gabriel and Gracie as much as I can," she continues. "They are keeping me going. I know my husband, the love of my life, will live on through his children and I hope to find peace and healing as they both grow up."

Gabe and Grace Alvarez
The moment that Gabriel Alvarez found out his wife Grace was having a boy. Courtesy

Grace has also been leaning on her family and "chosen family" as she continues to grieve her husband.

"I've been fortunate to have a great support network, who have been so instrumental right now," she says. "Those who knew him will attest: he was a kind, fun, loving man. He was an incredible father. He was a person who would do anything for anyone that needed him."

"This was the person I thought I'd live the rest of my life with," she adds. "I miss everything. The personal silly things, the ones we rarely mention, the ones I'd give anything to experience now. I will miss that I found that one person who loved me for me, didn't try to change me, and did all in his power to make all my dreams come true. How can you not miss that?"

A GoFundMe page was created for Gabe's family in the wake of his passing. So far, the campaign has raised more than $87,000. Those interested in donating can do so here.

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