Man killed in fatal crash was driving to ill grandmother, girlfriend says

Loved ones remember Tristen Gage for his 'love, compassion and kindness'

SAN ANTONIO – Family and loved ones of a man who died after crashing into a pillar on Wurzbach Parkway Friday afternoon are hoping their loss inspires people to love and serve others as the victim would have wanted.

Tristen Gage, 22, was a team leader for kids at his church, City Church International.

"Tristen Gage was an amazing person," said Henry Becerra, senior pastor and Gage's future brother-in-law. "He was filled with love, compassion and kindness. He was always a life-giving spirit. He led by example and was a tremendous church leader. He was tall, slim and handsome. There was everything you could love about Tristen."

Gage's girlfriend of four years, Mari Camargo, said there were many reasons why she fell in love with him.

"His hair was the first thing that got me," Camargo said with a smile. "His personality. His good soul. He was just a great guy in general. He brought nothing but positive vibes in our lives ... he is in paradise now."

Gage was on his way to see his ill grandmother when he died in the crash, Camargo said.

They spoke for the last time Friday. Gage had been called back to work at a local restaurant to wash dishes, Camargo said.

"He was upset that he had to go back," she said. "He said, ‘Go ahead and go baby, I am going to finish doing these dishes,' and he gave me a kiss. Then he texted me he loved me and that he would FaceTime me when he got off."

Gage called Camargo on FaceTime later that day as she was getting a pedicure with her mom.

"He was still upset, and I told him ‘It is OK, baby,'" Camargo said. "At the time, I was getting my feet done and I would always ask him, ‘What color should I get my nails?' That was the last conversation." 

Later, Camargo began to get a bad feeling. 

"I felt in my spirit that something wasn't right," Camargo said. "I had his location on my phone, and I knew he was there [at the crash scene] for an hour and a half, so I knew something was wrong. So, I told everyone to try to get ahold of him. I just felt really heavy and I told his sister and mom to go and check that location, and they saw it all."

"This was a big tragedy," Becerra said. "But we are stronger together and better together and Jesus is the anchor to our souls. He will be the comforter in these moments where we feel it is our darkest hours. This is where we see God do miracles in our lives." 

Gage was also known for his athletic abilities. He was Instant Replay's Scholar Athlete of the Week for Wagner High School.

"That boy could slam," Becerra said. "That boy could play. He had some game and skills. Like he would say he could ‘break some ankles.'"

Camargo said the two had a future planned together.

"We had everything planned out," Camargo said through tears. "To finish school and get married. We had everything set. From baby names, to where we wanted our wedding to be. We had everything planned."

Aspiring to be a radiologist, Gage was a student at Northeast Lakeview College.

"He was great at math," Camargo said. "He would always help me."

When he wasn't a full-time student in class or working a full-time job, Gage was serving the kids' ministry at church.

"The children have already started asking, ‘Where's Tristen?' It is going to be sad and very emotional," Becerra said.

Camargo said she could hear exactly what he would tell her moving forward in life.

"He would tell me, ‘Keep your head up. I am watching over you. I will be by your side no matter what. Finish what you are doing Mari. Do it for us,'" Camargo said.

She said staying focused is exactly what she will do for the rest of her life.

"I love you babe," Camargo said she would say if she could speak to Gage. "Whatever you started, I am going to finish it. I got you. I love you no matter what and I always have."

The family held a candlelight vigil for Gage at the scene of the accident Saturday night.

They plan to have the number ‘23' represented during a dedication memorial that will take place, Sunday, at City Church International in honor of Gage's jersey number. The service will be open to the public. 

"There is a quote that says, ‘Either you give your smile to the world or the world takes your smile away.'" Becerra said. "He was always a person who gave his smile to the world. I know God can take our tragedy and make it into a triumph. I want to encourage people going through dark times like this that with God he will pull us through and you through facing any tragic moment in this life."

Police have not released the cause of the accident as of Saturday night.

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