Parents of beloved San Antonio nurse killed in wrong-way crash share her life story

Daniela Lute had a passionate love for people, had goals of working in geriatrics

The parents of Daniela Lute are speaking out for the first time since the registered nurse was killed in a wrong-way fiery crash over the weekend.

San Antonio – A mother and father are raising awareness about the dangers of DWI after their beloved daughter was killed in a fiery wrong-way crash.

Michelle Taylor and Phillip Lute are the parents of Daniela Lute, 25. They remember her as having a positive and angelic soul.

“She was always determined and stubborn. She was just determined to always have a goal. Starting with sports. She didn’t want to play the sports. I wanted her to, but she was a club soccer player for 10 years,” Taylor said.

She said Daniela Lute turned her undivided attention to academics when she reached high school.

“I never had to tell her to do any homework,” Taylor said. “She was always studying. She was an amazing kid. She would say, ‘Mom, this is what I am going to do.’ In middle school she knew she wanted to be a nurse.”

Taylor said her daughter was considering medical school but she wanted to start working with patients right away.

She went to Health Careers High School and was a singer in the choir.

“She did what she needed to do,” Taylor said. “She knew her goal was to be a nurse practitioner and she wanted to build that connection with patients first so she could be more understanding of everyone needing help.”

“She was strong-willed,” said Phillip Lute. “She was all things goodness. As I was going through these thoughts in my mind, I thought, people would not believe or would have doubts and say, ‘No, she couldn’t have been all those things,’ but God told me those are the people who don’t know her. Everyone that knew her knew she was an angel on earth in our path. Angel is s big step because it is past the saints. She was an angel.”

They said Daniela Lute had a lot of lifelong friends that she stayed in contact constantly. She never met a stranger.

“She lit up a room,” Taylor said. “She could walk through that door right now and give everyone a hug and kiss. She was pure love. Her goal was to go into geriatrics to work with the elderly so that is how you know what kind of person she was. She loved everyone.”

In the midst of her work and determination, her parents said she had a great sense of humor.

“She knew how to make me laugh no matter what I was going through,” Phillip Lute said with a smile on his face. “I remember when she was about 5-years-old. She was in her car seat and we were driving and I don’t know what we were talking about but she said, ‘Dad, you know what I want to be when I grow up?’ I said, ‘What is that baby?’ She said, ‘A comedian!’ I had to pull the car over, it was so funny. I told her, ‘Baby, you are definitely on your way.’”

“She was so funny,” Taylor said. “She was always sarcastic but not the mean kind of sarcastic. She was the humorous sarcastic that could make light out of darkness. When she was about eight, I remember she locked us out of the house and popped her some popcorn and was looking at us through the doors while we were trying to get in. We had to break into our own house,” she said while laughing.

In everything, Daniela Lute loved to help others and she especially loved her patients she cared for.

“She would counsel her friends,” Taylor said. “There were times she would help me when I was going through something and she would say, ‘You know mom, you are going to get through this. Suck it up and do what you need to do even it is hard.’ She spoke Spanish, German and English fluently, so she had a way of communicating with all of her patients. She wasn’t just their nurse, she was their counselor, their protector, and their friend.”

But their daughter’s life was cut short when around 2:30 a.m. Saturday, Daniela Lute and a 27-year-old-woman the Bexar County Medical Examiner has identified as Diana Rubio, were killed in a head-on collision.

San Antonio police said Ricardo Rodriguez, 58, allegedly drove the wrong way on the highway at 90 mph before crashing his truck into the two women at I-35 and Walzem Road.

The impact killed Daniela Lute and Rubio.

“One of her friends called me and I thought it was a joke,” Taylor said through tears. “I thought, ‘How could someone like her be gone. I wished it was me! She didn’t get a chance to live her life. She’s never been married, she’s never had children, she’s never experienced life because it doesn’t start until age 25. Nobody thinks it will ever happen to them. Who would have thought my baby was gone.”

“I lost my mind,” Phillip Lute said. “I’ve been devastated in a profound and ugly intrusive way. My whole world has changed forever.”

Rodriguez survived the crash and is now in the hospital.

“I wished it was him instead of my baby,” Taylor said as she wept. “He gets to live! He gets to live and maybe it is behind bars, but my baby will never get a chance to turn 58 years old. He probably has kids. My baby will never get the chance to have children. He probably is married. My baby will never get to have that!”

The family said they are praying for both their family and the family of Rubio. They want others to learn from this situation.

“My daughter and that poor girl lost their lives because people do not understand that there are certain things you shouldn’t do,” Taylor said. “The inability for an adult to not understand that, when we have people dying every single day because of this kind of situation. I just don’t understand. I get upset because my child has died from this.”

They said it is sad to know that intoxicated driving impacts thousands of families all over.

“It happens too often” Taylor said. “We are just one set of parents. We are not alone. At what point can you make a person do right?”

“Nothing this guy did and nothing that happened in this tragic end of this angel’s journey here on earth can overshadow her light,” Phillip Lute said. “It can’t and it won’t.”

“I just want people to think of her and that poor young lady that died for no reason at all whenever they are making a decision to drink and drive,” Taylor said through tears. “It is preventable!”

The family said they are planning a memorial for Daniela Lute at the crash site Wednesday between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.

About the Authors:

Japhanie Gray joined 10 News as an anchor in March 2022.

Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.