LANCASTER – Arturo Leuvanos De La Torre was a loving husband, father of three, and grandfather of two. The 49-year-old always had a ready smile and hug for everyone he met, according to wife Luisa Luevanos.
“He was the sweetest man you would ever want to meet,” she said, while choking back tears. De La Torre’s wife, his sons and several family members gathered Monday morning at the intersection of 10th Street East and Avenue G, the site of the fatal collision that took De La Torre’s life this past weekend.
“I’m really sad that both of my kids are not going to be able to know their grandfather, have fun with him, spend time with him,” said son Arturo Leuvanos.
De La Torre was in a pickup truck that was broadsided by a car that ran a stop sign on 10th Street East, causing both vehicles to careen off the road into a ditch.
“He was the passenger so he got the whole impact, he was crushed,” wife Luisa said, adding that she was at work when she heard the tragic news.
Her husband had been getting a lift home from Food 4 Less around 6:25 p.m. Saturday (Sept. 21) and was less than five minutes away from home at the time of the crash, Luisa said.
Driver Erazmo Arroyoayala and De La Torre were in a Toyota Tacoma pickup truck headed eastbound on Avenue G when their vehicle was hit by a Honda Civic that drove through a stop sign on 10th Street East, according to a California Highway Patrol report.
The pickup truck had the right of way because Avenue G is not controlled by a traffic control device or stop sign at that intersection, CHP officials said.
Three of the five people in the Honda Civic were also killed in the collision – driver 22-year-old Marissa Fritz, 17-year-old Breanna Heyrend and 17-year-old Roland Mohan.
Luisa said she was not upset with the other party over the loss of her husband.
“I’m a mother, and I could just imagine losing children, especially that young and that many,” Luisa said. “All I ask for is a four-way stop so we could not lose any more lives.”
Luisa joined family members and residents in calling for a four-way stop to replace the two- way stop at the intersection of Avenue G and 10th Street East. Lancaster resident Carla Greenwood said her sister nearly died at that very same intersection more than a decade ago.
“I almost lost a sister, I did lose a good friend, and I’ve been asking for 15 years for something to be done. I’m hoping this wakes up the community,” Greenwood said, adding that she, too, almost got hit in the intersection by a service truck.
“I wish they would put a four-way stop, a blinking light, something… it needs to be done,” Greenwood continued.
Lancaster commissioner Dr. Miguel Coronado said he would be helping the family in lobbying for a four-way stop or traffic device at the intersection. Coronado said he was mobilizing an effort through his organization, Agents of Change, a humanitarian group focused on the local community.
“All the people that I know and care for are asking, ‘what do you need?’” Luisa said. “We’re just asking if you could support us in getting a sign out here for other people… Maybe something good could come out of this.”
“It would make me the happiest if we could make a change and not wait another 15 years,” Luisa continued.
The family is hosting a car wash fundraiser to help cover the cost of De La Torre’s funeral. The fundraiser will be held from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28 at the smog gas station on 10th Street West and Avenue I in Lancaster.
For more information about the car wash fundraiser or to join the effort to get a four-way stop at the intersection of 10th Street East and Avenue G, contact Agents of Change at 661-466-6810.
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