Mother who lost son to allergic reaction, fighting for food allergen bill

Belinda Vaca is hanging on to memories of her son Sergio. The 24-year-old loved music.

“He played lead guitar, he played cello, he played bagpipes, he played keyboard,” said Vaca, his mother.

He was set to graduate from U.T. Brownsville and become a mechanical engineer and continue his music hobby. But on June 25th in 2014,  he went to a restaurant for lunch like any other day, with his girlfriend. Sergio had peanut allergies, and  he asked the employees before he ordered if there were any peanuts in the products. They said no, and he ordered a taco.

“When he felt something he again called them on his phone, he spoke to them a minute and a half, ‘Does this have peanuts, because I feel a tingling in my tongue,?’ And they said no, we told you no it just contains spices."

Sergio was a hypochondriac his mom says, and would frequently go to the hospital. So this time around, he thought he was overreacting, until things got worse.

“He grabs his throat, telling his boss, he cannot work and his last words were ‘they lied to me, they lied to me.’"

Sergio passed away from anaphylaxis. Belinda, left without her only child, asked the establishment what went wrong.

“Their response was, ‘He asked if it had peanuts. It was a vegetarian taco, it had peanut butter.’ That's ignorance, peanut butter is part of peanuts,” said Vaca.

Vaca partnered with Senator Eddie Lucio to file SB 1683. It would allow businesses to properly inform their workers of food allergens by keeping displays around the work area.

“People who work in the kitchen, they can see it. It brings awareness that food allergens are fatal. That might be the first time they ever hear about this,” said Vaca.

There's not a day this mom doesn't think about her son.

“His voice. My song sang. He wrote his own music. His kisses and hugs and telling me ' I love you, ‘" said Vaca.

Lawmakers will hear the bill later this week, and this mother is hoping her son's death won't be in vain...and she can prevent others from feeling the same.

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