Local News

Aug 27, 2010 9:46 PM by Ariel Wesler

Community grieves for family killed in tragic crash

A memorial ceremony was held at a Santa Barbara church this morning to remember three family members killed earlier this week.

Tragedy struck just before 7 a.m. Tuesday morning after a runaway tractor trailer slammed into their house. The driver says his brakes failed as he came down Highway 154 into Santa Barbara, but the C.H.P. is still investigating.

The entire mass was held in Spanish, but the emotions spoke a universal language. Leonel Venegas, 22, his wife, Lorena Tellez Pacheco, 26, and her son Jaciel Tellez Pacheco, 8, were killed tragically Tuesday morning after a runaway tractor trailer crushed their home.

"You never know when it's going to get you. It's sad. It's tragic. They're all young. All three of them," said Luis Munoz, a family friend.

Leonel worked as a chef at Arigato sushi on State Street for the past two years.

"He wasn't just an employee. He was one of us. It's like losing a family member," said Daryl Takehara, who worked with Leonel.

With so many questions remaining, Father Rafael Marin-Leon told those in attendance all you can do is live on.

"We are remembering the memory of the deceased and we do so by living a very good and decent life," Marin-Leon said.

Open caskets for the young couple let some in attendance gaze on their loved ones for the last time. As the caskets were carried out, family and friends said their final goodbyes, including Jaciel's elementary school principal. Undoubtedly, healing these hearts won't be easy.

"We're still in shock about the whole thing," Takehara said.

An emotionally-charged memorial for a community, still trying to make sense of it all.

Leonel was just five days away from celebrating his 23rd birthday. All three will be laid to rest in Oaxaca, Mexico.

If you'd like to support the family, an account has been set up at Wells Fargo Bank. Just ask to donate to the Leon and Tellez Families Memorial Fund.


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