Colleagues, Students Grieve for South County Teachers Killed in Crash

Henry and Pamela Gutierrez would help students facing eviction, a colleague said

Two South County schools are planning a joint memorial for beloved, married teachers killed in a crash over the weekend.

Henry and Pamela Gutierrez, who went by Mr. G and Ms. G, were driving back from Arizona Saturday after Henry, 70, participated in a baseball tournament there.

The couple was on their way to his daughter’s home in Palm Springs when they crashed on Interstate 10 outside of Indio. Both died in the accident.

On Tuesday, grief counselors consoled students and staff at Hilltop High School in Chula Vista, where Pamela, 64, taught AP psychology, and at National City Middle School, where Henry taught world culture.

At both schools, colleagues remembered the couple for the huge difference they made in the lives of their students.

Teacher Angela Vasquez, who has known Henry for 16 years, said he was competitive and generous — beyond what anyone could imagine. He even aided students whose families faced eviction.

“He would pay the rent for these families,” said Vasquez. “He would put up a month, two months’ rent so kids could finish the school year. If they needed clothes or something special for graduation, just had to ask him. He would help them out — very generous.”

Pamela, meanwhile, had been teaching at Hilltop High for 17 years, and many of the teachers there now were once her students.

Until a few years ago, she served as the senior class adviser and yearbook adviser. Every year, she would also make the sashes for the school’s homecoming court.

At this year’s homecoming, her initials will be displayed on the sashes.

Pamela recently turned over the adviser role to Courtney Petersen.

“I used to call her my work mom my first year here because she would bring me lunch and have snacks for me, and she always made any struggle I had her struggle,” Petersen said.

She recalled calling Ms. G because she did not get the desired date for grad night at Disneyland.

“And she said, ‘That’s unacceptable.’ So she drove to Disneyland and refused to get out of line until she got the date she want,” said Petersen. “That was Pam. She got stuff done.”

Hilltop High’s class of 2001 is planning a candlelight vigil for Pamela on Saturday night at the school.

Administrators at Hilltop High and National City Middle schools are working together on a memorial for their beloved teachers, though details are still being worked out.

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