Counseling available for those who witnessed traumatic New Year’s morning crash that killed father, daughter

Witnesses say families rushed to the scene to see, help after crash

SAN ANTONIO – Ray Garcia is trying to deal with the roller coaster of emotions he’s feeling after witnessing Jesus Aguilar Jr. die on Jan. 1 near his home.

“The memories are still there. I mean, it’s not easy to put away,” Garcia said. “It’s hard to explain.”

Aguilar and his 14-year-old daughter were killed when a hit-and-run driver struck their minivan. Two other children inside the vehicle suffered burns but survived.

The suspected driver of the truck that hit the van was eventually arrested and charged.

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The crash happened just 30 minutes after midnight on New Year’s Day morning. Garcia said there were families outside in his neighborhood watching the fireworks when the crash occurred. He said more than 20 people, including children, rushed to the scene of the crash.

The carnage they all saw and heard is too gruesome to retell, but they are all dealing with the emotions of that experience three days later.

“It’s hard as adults for us to try and deal with it. You know, imagine for little kids. You know, that is difficult,” Garcia said.

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Mary Beth Fisk, CEO of the Ecumenical Center said, victims of traumatic experiences will experience different emotions after an incident.

“We don’t want to suppress that information. It will cause many physiologic responses, such as depression, headaches, even physical ailments, that are associated sometimes with grief. We can see those also manifesting themselves,” she said.

Overeating, not eating, sadness and nightmares are just some of the possible signs that a person needs to talk with someone.

“It’s important to process through those, whether you have a trusted friend or family member to talk with and process with,” Fisk said.

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The nonprofit center also receives grants to help victims of crimes receive counseling at a low cost or for free.

Fisk says calling to get help takes a lot of courage. She warns there is also such a thing as secondary trauma for those who are hearing about the events.

Those people who witnessed the crash or have been directly impacted by a traumatic event can call the center at 210-616-0885.

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