FRESNO, California (KSEE) – Community members and leaders in Fresno gathered on Wednesday to honor three lives taken too soon.
On Saturday, police said they tried to stop 18-year-old Irvin Villarreal from street racing, but lost him. Minutes later he ran a red light at more than 100 mph, hitting a truck with five family members inside. Three of them were killed.
27-year-old Christopher Vang, 21-year-old Linda Chang, and 17-year-old Allison Chang all lost their lives.
Linda Chang’s father, Tom Chang, said the 21-year-old was an amazing student, making the honor roll and stepping up as her mother’s caretaker.
Christopher Vang’s brother said the 27-year-old was kind and one of the funniest people he knows. He said he was just finishing up school.
“He found a job, you know, starting his young life and I was so proud of him, my family is proud of him, his friends (are proud of him),” Jerrie Vang said.
Allison Chang was just 17. Her mother Dana Xiong said the Sanger High School senior was disciplined and driven with a love of journalism.
“She was just not a name in the news. She was just not a tragic statistic. Her life meant so much more. My daughter is Allison Chang and I am so very proud to be her mother,” she said.
Community leaders said what adds to the tragedy is how preventable this loss was.
“We’ve got to take responsibility as a community and do the right thing. If a police officer is behind you, pull over. It’s as simple as that. Just pull over,” Councilmember Mike Karbassi said.
Karbassi is the councilmember representing the district where the crash took place. He urges parents to talk to their children about the importance of driving safely and what to do if an officer is trying to pull them over, especially with the New Year holiday on the horizon.
“We can control this. We can control this type of senseless accident. But it takes everyone to commit and it takes us to use common sense,” said Pao Yang, the president and CEO of The Fresno Center.
The families hope sharing their stories will help others realize the weight of their actions.
A GoFundMe has been set up to help the families with final expenses.