A couple killed in the Coronado Bridge crash Saturday dedicated their lives to helping children in need, their nephew told NBC 7 San Diego.
AnnaMarie Contreras, 50, and Cruz Elias Contreras, 52, were killed at the La Raza Ride motorcycle festival when a suspected DUI driver hit a guard rail and flew 60 feet off the Coronado Bridge and into the packed crowd at the park.
The couple, married for 35 years, were foster parents who opened their homes to many children, sometimes keeping siblings as long as it took to make sure they would not be split up.
"There were a few brothers that were almost separated after their parents passed and they didn't have anywhere to go and system was about to split them up," said Jacob Contreras, the couple's nephew from Chandler, Arizona. "My aunt and uncle took care of them for long time until they were able to find a place to keep them together forever."
Jacob said traveling the country on their bike was one of their joys, since they had recently semi-retired. AnnaMarie was a teacher's assistant and Cruz was a guidance counselor for at-risk youths.
Their nephew said the couple would often take their foster children to museums and ball games, introducing them to new experiences they may not have had otherwise.
"I think Cruz sees a lot of himself in a lot of kids he worked with," Jacob said. "He himself faces adversity in his youth and his teenage years, and I think he wanted to play an active father figure role, that shoulder to lean on, that backbone to a lot of kids who needed it."
The family came from humble beginnings in Flagstaff, their nephew said. The entire family has spent time volunteering and giving back to the community - a lot of that facilitated and inspired by AnnaMarie and Cruz, Jacob said.
"The role they played in my family - they were the glue that kept us together, the inspiration that helped a lot of us volunteer," he said. "A shoulder to lean on in tough times. They were a rock for all of us in family."
Jacob said it's been hard to put into words the deep and profound impact that AnnaMarie and Cruz's deaths have had on the family.
His aunt and uncle did not deserve to die at the hands of a suspected drunk driver, he added.
"There are hundreds of people who are crying and aching today because of the poor judgments of one person, so if one thing could be learned today, people in the San Diego area, please stop, think, call a taxi, call a cheap Uber," Jacob pleaded, voice shaking. "Don't allow another incident like this to happen."
A GoFundMe page was created for the Contreras family.
The driver, identified as 24-year-old Richard Anthony Sepolio, has been charged with DUI and manslaughter. He is an active duty member of the Navy stationed in Coronado.
Sepolio remains in the hospital with serious injuries.