Friends and community members are rallying around a beloved custodian at a San Diego County school who recently had to have his foot amputated after a bite from a venomous spider at work.
Guil Aguilar was taking out the trash at Park Dale Lane Elementary School in Encinitas when he first felt the bite, family friend and co-worker Santos Vasquez told KTLA sister station KSWB in San Diego on Friday.
Aguilar was moving some cans by a dumpster and noticed a few spiders but didn’t think much of it, Vasquez said. Then he felt a twinge on his foot as he walked away.
The custodian, who has worked in the school district for five years, was unsure if it was a spider bite or perhaps something stuck in his shoe, according to Vasquez.
At first, he shrugged it off. Later, as the bite swelled and started to itch more, Aguilar started icing the welt on his foot.
By the time he and his family went to visit relatives in Arizona for Thanksgiving, Aguilar was beginning to feel ill. He was admitted to the hospital, first in Arizona, then as a transfer to Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas where doctors determined Aguilar was suffering from the infected bite of a venomous spider. It was unclear what species bit him.
Aguilar underwent multiple surgeries, but none could stop the spread of the infection, Vasquez explained. Doctors finally decided the custodian’s foot and part of his lower leg would need to be amputated.
As Aguilar recovered at the hospital this week, word spread to the Park Dale Lane community. A GoFundMe for his medical expenses had surpassed $10,000 by Friday morning.
“Guil is the primary provider for his family and they depend on him,” read the fundraising page, which was organized by fourth-grade teacher Melissa Scharbarth. “I am reaching out and pleading for financial support. Please consider making a sizable donation to Guil.”
Scharbarth told KSWB that Aguilar is beloved in the Park Dale Lane community, a sentiment echoed by others.
And Brynn Gibbs, the mother of a kindergartner at the school who only recently met Aguilar, said she was struck by how “kind, super hard-working and dedicated” he is.
“He’s all smiles,” Gibbs said of the custodian, who works the evening shift.
Vasquez visits his friend near-daily as he recovers in the hospital, adding Aguilar is looking forward to getting back home with his wife and children.