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‘He always looked out for others.’ Worker killed in Pacoima wall collapse remembered as devoted family man

Javier Calderon.
Javier Calderon, 49, poses with his wife Teresa. Calderon, a rebar installer, was identified late Wednesday evening as the man killed by a collapsing wall at a construction site in Pacoima.
(Courtesy of Monica Calderon)
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With its 4 a.m. alarms and 13-hour workdays, Javier Calderon’s typical schedule didn’t exactly leave much room for free time.

But for the 49-year-old San Bernardino County resident, family time was always the priority.

There were nightly phone calls with his daughter who lives in Texas, and occasional late-night family Cold Stone Creamery runs to grab vanilla and cheesecake ice cream.

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This week, he was set for dinner out on Thursday with his wife and three of his five daughters, followed by a marshmallow-toasting campout the next evening with two of his three grandchildren.

Calderon was killed Wednesday when a cinder block wall collapsed at a Pacoima construction site, pinning him under the rubble. Two other workers were injured.

His 27-year-old daughter, Monica, hopes those who knew her dad will remember him as she does: a busy but family-oriented husband, father, grandfather and friend.

Los Angeles firefighters found three workers injured by a cinder block wall at a construction site in Pacoima. Two were taken to a hospital; the other died under the rubble.

June 7, 2023

“He was so much more than a ‘construction worker’ like was mentioned in the news that night,” she said in a phone interview. “He was a hard-working person who always wanted to be an example for his family, and he wanted to do what he could to improve our lives.”

She has created a GoFundMe account to help raise money for funeral expenses and additional bills.

A native of Morales, Mexico, Calderon immigrated to the United States when he was 14.

While he did not attend college, Calderon encouraged his daughters to pursue higher education. Monica Calderon eventually became the first member of the family to graduate from a university, earning her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Cal State Northridge in 2019.

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“He used to tell me all the time that he believed in me and was proud of me,” Monica Calderon said.

Calderon was a rebar installer who loved backyard cookouts and was in the process of constructing a barbecue at the family’s home, according to his daughter.

Activity and action were synonymous with Calderon, who despite his grueling work schedule always wished his waiting family “good morning” when he got home each day.

Monica Calderon said her father was a cautious man, but that construction accidents were not uncommon for the family.

She said her uncle fell off a roof a decade ago and survived, while her father twisted his ankle years earlier while stepping incorrectly at a job site.

“I remember him telling me after that injury that he was grateful that he got hurt and no one else did,” she said. “He always looked out for others.”

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Monica Calderon said her father was very protective of his five daughters, often “throwing side-eye” when his children would talk about their crushes.

What she will miss most, though, are the laughs and her father’s many trademark sayings.

“I’ll never hear again, ‘You know what I mean, chili bean?’ and ‘It is what it is, baby,’” she said. “I guess I’m still expecting him to walk through that door.”

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