Imperial County

‘I Want Him to Answer My Calls': Family Confirms Loved One Killed in Imperial County Crash

"I still keep dialing his number, waiting for him to answer. I still want him to answer my calls."

Foto de Jairo Dueñas frente a foto de accidente en Imperial County

A mother from Mexicali, Mexico, had her greatest fear come true on Thursday when she confirmed her husband was among the migrants killed in the deadly crash in Holtville, California.

“I feel terrible. I don’t wish this upon anyone else. I never imagined this happening,” Sofia Castañeda said after receiving the news that Jairo Dueñas, 28, was among the victims of the vehicle crash in which 13 migrants died and a dozen others were injured.

Castañeda now yearns for the repatriation of his body to Mexicali so that she and her son can see him again.

"I still keep dialing his number, waiting for him to answer. I still want him to answer my calls," Castañeda said.

According to Castañeda, after getting married they separated for several years and he had children in another relationship, but a month ago they got back together. He planned on going to the U.S. to work and buy a car and then go back to Mexico and get married by the church.

"In June, we were going celebrate our 10 year anniversary and we wanted to get married in a church. That's why he wanted to make more money, to have a big wedding,” she said.

More than a dozen people were killed when an SUV collided with a semi-truck hauling gravel near the U.S.-Mexico Border in California's Imperial County Tuesday morning, according to officials.

His son Jairo, 9, also just received the news and says that what he will miss most about his father, is his bread. Dueñas was a baker, but when he couldn't give his loved ones everything he would have liked, he went in search of the American dream.

"When he came to the U.S., he said he was looking for a better life, that he was coming back," she said.

Unfortunately, Dueñas will not return with the joy they promised and while they wait for his body, they remember him through photographs that will remain marked in their hearts.

"They're doing an investigation because they told us they're investigating it as human trafficking and they're doing the inquiries so they can send the body," Castañeda said.

The family is in contact with the Mexican Consulate in Calexico for assistance with the transfer of the body. According to Castañeda, she doesn’t know who helped him cross or how he did it.

On Thursday, the California Highway Patrol released the names of the other 12 SUV passengers that were injured in the crash.

The Mexican Consulate said any family members who need assistance can call (760) 455-2140. Offices in San Bernardino and San Diego can help with translation services if needed, the consulate said.

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