PHOENIX — There’s no proper farewell when a loved one dies.
Leo Montenegro’s family wishes they could have had their chance.
“Definitely wish I had the chance to say goodbye to him,” said Cassandra Patton about her uncle. “He was just full of love.”
The father of five was killed early Sunday morning.
Phoenix police said an adult man was driving northbound on 27th Avenue, just south of Camelback Road when it struck Montenegro. He was taken to a local hospital where he died.
“He was a good family member,” Patton said. “He was always there for people when they needed him.”
Earlier in his life, Montenegro adopted one of his cousin’s seven children after he passed away, Patton said.
“Instead of having them separated into other homes, he took them into his own home with his wife at the time,” she added.
Montenegro wrestled and boxed growing up, his niece said he was good at it. He passed that onto his own children, Patton said.
“Before he passed, he had gone through some hard times, but we want to remember him as the person he was before… strong, loving, caring, very resilient,” she said.
Montenegro’s mother was getting ready for church when police arrived at her door and gave her the news, Patton said.
The cause of the accident is still under investigation. Phoenix police said no charges have been filed against the driver.
“It’s a tragedy and everyone is having a really hard time with it right now,” Montenegro’s niece said. “He was very tough on the outside but had a very soft heart on the inside.”
The family is now holding on to the memories, and hugs, in hopes that people tell their loved ones how much they mean to them before it’s too late.
“Hug everybody, tell everybody ‘I love you’ because you just never know,” Patton said. “You just never know when someone is going to pass… so, love your loved ones and keep them close.”
The family has set up a GoFundMe account to help with funeral expenses.
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