Family remembers loved one killed in slow-speed chase that ended in crash

By Japhanie Gray - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - The family of a woman who was killed in a slow-speed chase is remembering her not only as a beautiful person inside and out, but as a grandmother who would do anything for her grandkids.

Police said Yolanda Mesa wasn't wearing a seat belt while riding in the unsecured back seat of a car driven by her granddaughter’s boyfriend, 19-year-old Ray Reyes Soto. Her granddaughter, Marisol Mesa, was in the passenger seat.

Leon Valley police Chief Joe Salvaggio said officers tried to stop Soto for an expired registration but he refused to pull over because he had active warrants for his arrest.

The chase ended when Soto lost control of his vehicle and hit a concrete basin for a telephone pole.

“It really hurt me, because nobody will know how it was, because I was the only one there,” said Marisol Mesa. “Like, I saw how she was. I saw it all happen.”

Marisol Mesa was Yolanda Mesa’s oldest and closest granddaughter.

“I am the only one who knew my grandparents," Marisol Mesa said. "My younger siblings will never know. My grandma always had my back. Through everything. That's why all of this stuff is just hard on me.”

Yolanda Mesa’s daughter, Melissa Hall, said her mother has always been the best support system.

“My mom was never judgmental, and she always accepted everybody and anybody and she had such a soft heart,” Hall said. “Any sports event, any activity you can think of with the kids, she was always there. It would be like a big party every time something was happening with her grandkids. She was always active in anything they wanted to do.”

Yolanda Mesa's son, Ramiro Mesa, shares a very close bond with his mother. He said his mother was there for the birth of his first child, Marisol.

“Her and my dad were the only ones excited about Marisol,” Ramiro Mesa said. “We were teen parents and scared, but they were there anytime we needed anything.”

Yolanda Mesa's family said her sense of humor and fun attitude is one of their best memories.

“I was her favorite son-in-law,” said Hank Hall, Melissa Hall’s husband. “We would always joke around. She would always have fast comebacks. Overall, she was just a beautiful woman. Very family-oriented.”

Yolanda Mesa lost her husband in 2016 and suffered a stroke in 2017, but no matter what, her family always took care of her and she continued to take care of them.

“I knew she was lonely,” Melissa Hall said. “But she always had us. She was still spunky, and everyone knew her."

“She would talk to every person you can think of and talk for a very long time! She never met a stranger,” Hank Hall said through laughter.

Marisol Mesa, who is 18, took care of her grandmother.

“I took my grandma everywhere,” Marisol Mesa. “Everybody knew me and my grandma, because I would tell her everything. I think I was trying to take on a lot of things. I was working a job, going to school full-time, making straight A’s and making sure she was OK at the same time. I was the one living with her and came home to her every night and saw her every morning. Me and my tio would be the ones answering her 20 phone calls every day.”

The family even shared a laugh about Yolanda Mesa’s love for coffee and music.

“Grandma knew the back-side menu to Starbucks,” said Melissa Hall. “She put all the grandkids on it, she put me on it. We all just loved it.”

“She even knew there was a kid’s-temperature coffee at Starbucks,” laughed Mirella Mesa, Ramiro Mesa’s wife. “She would say, ‘You better not make this coffee too hot for my children!’ Then she would be with the grandkids and on full blast, they would be listening to music. Bruno Mars on repeat!”

Marisol Mesa said because of the strong faith in God Yolanda Mesa instilled into the family, they are all able to keep going with their heads held high.

“I have always been a strong believer in that everything happens for a reason,” said Marisol Mesa. “Even if it doesn’t make sense that day or next month or the next year, everything has a purpose.”

She said she is happy that her grandmother is in a better place.

“I know I had a guardian angel (her grandpa) watching over me,” Marisol Mesa said. “I know how much she missed him, and I know how lonely she was, and as much as she wanted to stay here with me, I just think my grandpa was trying to get her to come home with him.”

Marisol Mesa added that she wants this situation to be a lesson to all drivers on the road.

“Many times, I forget to put on my seat belt because it is not something I think of at times,” she said. “This one particular day though, I put my seat belt on, and I think if I hadn’t put it on, it would have been two funerals my family would have had to prepare instead of one.

"You know, no matter how fast a car is going, it is going to go and it can really cause damage. So many people lose their lives over a simple decision they have to make every day. Driving in a car, you should put your seat belt on, because you never know what is going to happen.”

The family said they will have a rosary ceremony Thursday from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at St. Matthew Catholic Church. The family is asking that everyone in attendance wear Christmas attire.

“If she was alive today and saw us all sad and wearing black, she would be upset,” said Melissa Hall. “We are asking for Christmas attire, since she won’t be here with us when the holiday comes around.”

The family also plans to hold a Mass on Friday, where they are asking everyone to wear purple, which was Yolanda Mesa’s favorite color.

“If she was here today, she would say she is happy with Grandpa and that she is very proud of her family,” said Marisol Mesa.

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