PHOENIX — Three Valley families are in mourning after a catastrophic crash on I-17 left three young men dead and two others seriously hurt.
DPS is trying to figure out what led to the crash as families remember the lives taken far too soon.
“When we heard about this it definitely came to us as a shock," said Miriam Chavez, Christian Chavez's cousin.
Christian Chavez's father and cousin never expected to be talking about the 24-year-old in the past tense.
“My son was very kind. What I can say is he was excellent. He had no bad habits. Healthy. Helping others," said Javier Chavez, Christian's father.
Christian is described by family as a great son and friend, softball coach and father to a five-year-old. He had his whole life ahead of him.
“He was an outstanding person. He had everything going for him in life. To see his son grow up and to get married," Miriam said.
All of that was cut short Thursday evening when he and four of his co-workers and close friends were heading home from work in their work truck. DPS said their trailer had a mechanical issue which caused them to come to a stop in the HOV lane of the I-17.
All five of them got out and stood between the trailer and the truck. That's when a driver crashed into them.
Christian and two others, Jonathan Vazquez-Garcia and Miguel Loya-Sanchez did not survive. The two others were injured, one critically. The driver of the passenger vehicle who struck them was injured and later released from the hospital.
“He’s no longer going to be with me or our family anymore because I lost him in an accident," Javier said while fighting back tears.
As the Chavez Family and two other families are left heartbroken planning funeral arrangements, they are pleading with drivers to pay attention.
“Pay attention. Not just for yourself but for everybody around you because just like your life can change, you can change everybody around you," Miriam said.
Following the crash, the Department of Public Safety provided critical safety tips for both drivers and passengers. They respond to thousands of stopped vehicles per year and say each one can be dangerous.
Christian Chavez's family has set up a GoFundMe page to assist them during this difficult time.