Allen Belaguas wanted to travel the world and become a nurse, but those dreams were cut short when fire struck the Naperville home where he had just begun working as a live-in caregiver.
Belaguas, 21, of Orland Park, died Sunday at a hospice facility -- less than two months after being critically injured Dec. 18 in an accidental house fire that killed the couple for whom he was caring, Tom and Jan Lambert of Naperville.
His mother, stepfather and cousin described Belaguas as a "fun-loving, caring and adventurous" person who loved music and photography. He recently had become a certified nursing assistant when he took a job first in a nursing home and then in the home of the Lamberts on Field Court in Naperville.
He had been working there only eight days, his mother Zeta Pierson said, when the fire began about 6:50 a.m. on a Wednesday. Pierson said her son initially escaped the blaze, but then "came back to save the couple."
"They said my son was doing his job," Pierson said days after the fire.
The Lamberts, 57-year-old Tom, a brain cancer patient, and 56-year-old Jan, who was blind, both died in the fire. Two others in the home, Tom Lambert's father and sister, escaped with minor injuries.
Authorities said Belaguas suffered severe smoke inhalation in the fire. He was in intensive care until his death on Sunday at a Rainbow Hospice facility.
Belaguas was born in the Philippines and lived there until about a year and a half ago, Pierson said. His caring tendencies began to show when he helped take care of elderly family members such as his grandfather. And he developed a love for American pop music, especially songs by Britney Spears, Katy Perry and Justin Timberlake.
"Once you know him, it's easy to get along well," said Belaguas' cousin Marie Smith. "He's just fun."
Funeral arrangements for Belaguas are pending, his family said Monday.
• Daily Herald staff writer Lee Filas contributed to this report.