Day and night, Joaquin Rivera's family is haunted by two unbearable thoughts.
The first is of Rivera, a beloved Puerto Rican musician and high school counselor, dying in the waiting room of a Frankford hospital that he visited on Saturday, while suffering with pain in his arm and torso.
The second is of three cold-blooded vultures who, police said, preyed upon the 63-year-old father of three during his final moments, when they stole his old wristwatch.
"Oh, my God, I have so many mixed feeling about all of this," said Rivera's son, Joaquin Rivera Jr.
"He was the greatest man I ever knew. I don't know how something like this could happen to him."
According to Philadelphia police, Rivera walked into Aria Health's Frankford Campus, on Frankford Avenue near Harrison Street, about 10:45 p.m. Saturday.
He was alone, and apparently had walked from his nearby home on Duffield Street near Foulkrod, his son said.
Rivera complained of feeling pain in his left arm and abdomen, and was told to sit in the waiting area, said police spokesman Lt. Frank Vanore.
At some point during the next hour, Rivera, a longtime bilingual counselor at Olney High School, lost consciousness. He inadvertently became a target, Vanore said, to three other people in the waiting room - a black woman, a 30-something, 5-foot-8 black man in dark pants who limped, and a second man, who was later arrested at the hospital and identified as Richard Alten, 44.
Alten signed up to be seen by a doctor, while his two cohorts sat near Rivera. "At some point, [Alten] is observed taking the victim's watch and passing it to the other man," Vanore said.
When a witness ran to notify a security guard of the crime and Rivera's condition, the limping man and his female partner fled, Vanore said. Hospital personnel rushed to Rivera's aid, but it was too late.
He was pronounced dead shortly after midnight Sunday. Vanore said police have not yet learned of Rivera's cause of death.
The family said he was believed to have died of a heart attack.
An Aria Health official released a statement last night saying that the hospital could not comment on the circumstances because of the pending police investigation.
Vanore said surveillance footage of the other two suspects might be released later this week. Alten, who's last known address was in Florida, is being held on charges of theft and criminal conspiracy.
"The people who robbed my father, why would they do that to a man?" said Rivera Jr., his voice wrought with emotion.
Rivera Jr. noted his family also has numerous questions for Aria Health officials. "My father went there complaining about chest pains," he said. "They made him wait there for over an hour. That's ridiculous."
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