Before a fatal collision on Sunday morning in Rico Rico, one of the vehicles involved was spotted weaving on Interstate 19.
Reymundo Galvez, 24, who was a passenger in the 1996 Chevrolet Cavalier that was reportedly seen weaving on I-19, died at the scene. A Rio Rico resident, he is a 2006 graduate of Nogales High School and former intern with the Nogales International.
The driver of the Cavalier was identified as Miguel Alonzo Escobar, also 24. Escobar was airlifted to a Tucson hospital and is in critical condition, Sheriff Antonio Estrada said.
The other vehicle involved was a 1994 Ford Ranger XLT driven by Gabriel Lira, 54, and Noemi Lira, 33. They were treated for minor injuries and released from Carondelet Holy Cross Hospital, Estrada said.
Alcohol and fatigue may have been contributing factors, he said. "This is all still under investigation.”
Perla Elhard lives in the Rio Rico neighborhood where the collision occurred, on W. Frontage Road between Via Calandria and Calle Faisan.
She told the NI on Monday that a large crashing sound just after 8 a.m. on Sunday got her out of bed and out to the scene.
Elhard said it appeared that the northbound sedan veered into the oncoming pickup truck.
“The passenger-side door was crushed into the vehicle,” which after the impact ended up on a hill on the side of the road tilted to one side, she said.
First she checked on the occupants of the pickup. “Then I went to check on the boys. The passenger was breathing but in a labored manner,”Elhard said. “The driver was not moving, so I checked his pulse. He reacted to my touch and he started to move.”
She said a Border Patrol agent arrived in his civilian vehicle, telling investigators that he had seen the Cavalier swerving near the Ruby Road Exit and had called in to dispatchers reporting the car had taken Exit 17 off I-19.
“The paramedics pulled out the driver first and then they used a machine to open up the car to get the passenger,” Elhard said. “I noticed that they slowed down and when I saw the boy kind of slumped and lifeless, I deduced he died before they could get him out.
“I went home and I could feel my blood pressure go down and I got sick. I could not get (the accident) out of my mind.”
Neighbors said the area of West Frontage Road where the crash occurred was closed for more than four hours.
Former coworkers and friends at the NI said Galvez was introspective but had an easy-going personality. “He was sweet, funny and very, very tender,” said Priscilla Bolanos, graphic artist for the NI and Weekly Bulletin “He seemed to worry about everything. At the same time he had a special humor and often made us laugh with things he would say.”
In an article he wrote for the NI on May 22, 2008, Galvez fondly recalled growing up on the border. He attended kindergarten at a Nogales, Sonora school located near his grandmother’s home.
“Each weekday morning, my father and I would stop at Grandma Herminia's house before going to school,” he wrote. “The mornings always seemed warm as the eggs, bacon, and tortillas were being prepared in the kitchen. As we arrived she would come out and hug me. A unique smell combining her garden and chickens highlighted by a strong aroma of a white talc or body powder from that purple box she kept in her bathroom penetrated the core of my senses.
“She always handed my lunch in a red Ninja Turtles lunch box, which usually comprised egg burritos, which she knew I loved, and a fresh-picked flower from her blooming garden.”
After naming some people in the community who influenced him the most, Galvez wrote, “I will be working for the Nogales International as an intern for eight weeks to gain experience in newspaper writing and as a journalist. On behalf of this newspaper, I hope to contribute to Nogales in a new way. So I present myself to you, the reader, as ‘Rey,’ a proud member of the Nogales community.”
Galvez graduated from the University of Arizona in 2010 with bachelor’s in journalism and Spanish.