TORRANCE COUNTY, N.M. (KRQE) – Moments after a family gathering, a father, his daughter and his granddaughter were killed by a suspected drunk driver on Saturday night. The crash also sent four other family members to the hospital with injuries.
“This is what happens, innocent people,” Carlos Gonzalez said.
“They were young, really young, too young,” said Jesus Jimenez.
A family of seven started the drive to Albuquerque on Saturday night after a birthday party at a relative’s house in Moriarty.
They never made it home.
“It’s been a little tough on the family, especially for the ones that witnessed it,” Jimenez said.
He said some saw the aftermath of a deadly head-on collision that took the lives of family they’d just been celebrating with.
“This was only a few miles down the road,” he said.
Pablo Caldera, his 22-year-old daughter Jusalet and his 18-month-old granddaughter Citlaly died after, the Torrance County Sheriff said, Caesar Chavez was drunk and veered into their lane, hitting their car.
“This is not scene any officer anyone wants to roll up on, especially with young children,” Sheriff Heath White said.
“Those people would do anything for you. They would do anything for you and they were always there. Pablo always there with a smile and his daughter, very nice people. We’re going to miss them,” Gonzalez said.
The crash also sent Pablo’s wife, his other daughter and his two sons to the hospital with injuries.
His wife’s family said physically she is in critical condition and emotionally: “She’s not doing too well, just knowing the fact that she lost half her family,” Jimenez said.
Sheriff White said this is at least the third DWI arrest for Chavez.
It has left the victims’ family with a one clear message to the public as they work to plan funeral services: “If they’re going to drink, do not drive,” Jimenez said.
“A family of seven is in a car one moment and all of a sudden three are taken away and four are fighting for their lives. It’s just not right,” Gonzalez said.
The Mountain View Telegraph reported that in court on Monday Chavez said, “I killed three people. I need to get a lawyer. I was drunk.”
The victims’ family has set up Bank of America account 439007826557 under Yoni Pacheco for anyone who would like to contribute as they try to raise money for the funeral services.