HANFORD, Calif. - In the wake of a Christmas tragedy, family and friends paid tribute to a hit-and-run victim in Hanford Tuesday night. 32-year-old Raymond Romero died in a crash just before 9 P.M. Monday night. He was driving his girlfriend, two sons and younger cousin home from a Christmas gathering in Corcoran.
Police say 21-year-old Abraham Chavez and 19-year-old Angel Castillo are the suspects. They're also searching for 18-year-old Zoe Barrios who is the registered owner of the involved SUV. Romero's family says a miracle did come out of this tragedy. Eyewitness News spoke to Romero's longtime girlfriend who is now without the love of her life.
It happened in a matter of seconds. Inconsolable pain at the hands of what police call reckless driving.
"I just wanted him to come back alive. Or I wanted them to bring him back alive," said Miranda Garza.
Garza spoke to Eywitness News over the phone from her hospital bed. She says she held her boyfriend Raymond Romero in her arms moments after he died in a hit-and-run crash Christmas night. Hanford Police Chief Parker Sever says Abraham Chavez and Angel Castillo drove a dark SUV through a red light on Hume Avenue at the same time Romero and his family went north on 11th Avenue in his Chevy Impala.
"It's completely irresponsible what they did and they obviously need to pay for the crimes that they committed," said Chief Sever.
Police say the suspects ran off after the crash. Meanwhile at nine months pregnant, Garza was flown to Kaweah Delta Hospital. Medics rushed Romero's two boys and younger cousin, all under ten-years-old and in critical condition to Valley Children's and CRMC. Garza says Romero loved and protected his family, motivated by his big heart.
"And he was just so strong and he was so big and he would just hold us and take care of us," said Garza.
And excited to take care of his future daughter. Garza says he constantly whispered to the unborn baby.
"He was not ready to go. He was not ready to leave," said Garza.
Before the end of Christmas, Eileen Rizzle Romero entered the world. A healthy newborn girl, 13 years after her father and mother officially became a couple. Now a day Garza says will be bittersweet for the rest of her life.
"My daughter's birthday. It's my anniversary and now I'm gonna be grieving on Christmas every year," said Garza.
Romero's family does need help with his burial. Here is the link: www.gofundme.com/nayduc-aunt
If you have any information on the wanted suspects, call Hanford Police.