Laid to rest Monday after a fatal bee attack last Thursday, 65-year-old Juan Urrutia’s life had been touched by his son’s tragic death in May 2010.
Paul Solis said his father-in-law had asked, “If the Lord can forgive us for what we did, put Him on the cross, and He forgave us, why can’t we forgive?”
His family said Urrutia also prayed over the wrong-way driver who killed his son, and later was convicted of intoxication manslaughter.
The encounter came last May in the hallway outside 187th District Court, where 24-year-old Jacob Vincent Perez was about to be sentenced.
Marisol Soto, Urrutia’s daughter, said her father watched Perez’s tearful apology on TV.
Soto said she told her father, “'You know we have forgiven Jacob Perez within ourselves.'”
She said in reply he said, “'Yes, but the Lord needs us to go tell him in person.'”
Soto said when Perez saw her father, “He just broke down in tears. He didn’t have words other than, 'I’m sorry, I’m sorry.'”
Urrutia’s daughter said after being told of their meeting, the jury sentenced Perez to 10 years probation.
Still in jail for now, only Perez’s wife was among the mourners at Urrutia’s funeral.
“She said she talked to Jacob and that he took it so hard,” Soto said.
Soto said she believes her father’s faith in action has earned him a special place in Heaven.
A longtime member of Templo Bethel Church on the city’s Southside, Soto said her father also helped build other churches in Mexico and wherever they were needed.
She said her father’s willingness to help others is why he took to a riding lawn mower last Thursday, despite knowing bees had infested the roof overhang at his brother’s house.
The noise agitated the bee swarm that attacked Urrutia, killing him.
Since he’d never been stung before, Soto said the family later was told Urrutia was allergic to bee stings.
Soto said she urges others to learn from their loss, by getting professionals to eliminate the often hidden hazard. She said it’s also important people check their surroundings for bees if they plan on doing any yard work.
“Look around. Scout around,” she said. “They’re everywhere.”