The nephew and grandson of the three women killed in a crash in Oceanside Tuesday said five of the six passengers in the car were wearing their seatbelts.
Raul Herrera's grandmother and two aunts were killed in the crash at the intersection of Oceanside Boulevard and Coast Highway. They were riding in a sedan with three other passengers when they were hit by a truck that ran a red light.
Petra Arango, 40, her mother, Rufina Arango Rodriguez, 74, of Fallbrook, and her sister, Eloina Arango, 56, of Mexico, were killed. Petra's
Petra's 13-year-old daughter, her husband Rey and her father were injured in the crash. Her daughter, the only one unrestrained at the time of the crash, according to Herrera, was ejected from the vehicle. She was released from the hospital on Wednesday, but Rey and Petra's father are still there.
Petra's co-workers held a vigil in her memory at the Silver Oak Country Estates for Senior Living, a residential care facility in Vista where Petra worked as a caregiver.
“She would always come to work happy no matter what, and that’s crazy to say because we all have bad days," co-worker Jaqueline Galindo said. "She always came happy, ready to work, loving to take care of the ladies."
Petra's daughter is a student at Lincoln Middle School in Oceanside. The Oceanside Unified School District released this statement in regards to what it called a "tragic accident."
"It is with profound sadness that we confirm the tragic accident that took place involving members of our school community. Family members of a Lincoln Middle School student were fatally injured as a result of a car accident earlier this week. There are no words to describe the unthinkable pain this young child faces as she processes her loss, and we are asking the entire community to hold her and her family in your hearts and thoughts. Be assured that the Oceanside school community will offer her all the love and assistance that we can."
Lorena Eckert said that Petra had a gift for caring for others.
Co-workers said they know Petra's daughter well because Petra often brought her to work. Together they would decorate and plan parties for patients during the holidays.
Silver Oak staff was also familiar with Rey who was a landscaper at the property.
Co-workers set up a GoFundMe page to support Petra's family. They're trying to raise money so they can give Petra, her mother and her sister a proper burial in Mexico.
“I couldn’t imagine without my mom... and I hope that we can raise as much money to help them, because it’s just not fair," Galindo said.
Herrera said Rodriguez was the most caring grandmother ever.
"You walked up to her and she gave you a hug no matter what," he said. She would have a smile. She would do anything. She would offer us anything. We would go visit her and she would go 'Here, have this. I don't care, take it.' She was a loving, loving grandmother, mother and sister."
A memorial with candles and balloons formed on the street corner near the crash.
Family members and friends held a candle-light vigil and prayer service for the women at the home of a family friend. Many family members of patients Petra cared for attended.
"It is immensely saddening you think of how wonderful and caring she is not only with the people here but with her own family," Mark Robinson said. Petra cared for Robinson's cousin who had dementia.
"She was just a ray of sunshine," Melissa Treibel said. "She could always make you laugh. It's a real loss."
Treibel said Petra cared for her mother at the home until she died.
The driver of the truck, 19-year-old Mason Fish, pleaded not guilty Thursday to seven charges including gross vehicular manslaughter. Prosecutors said he had 1.6 grams of cocaine in his wallet at the time of the crash.
A witness to the crash told NBC 7 Fish didn't hit his breaks before the collision, and said he seemed unconcerned for the people in the other car.
"A normal human being would go and try to help, try to do something, correct the situation, maybe," Alfonso Nava said.
Surveillance video from a gas station across the intersection shows the Mazda follow another truck into the intersection. Seconds later, Fish's truck, headed southbound on Coast Highway, slammed into the Mazda's driver's side.
Two victims were pronounced dead at the scene and the third was pronounced dead at the hospital.