Mexicans remembered as hard workers
The stories of the three Summit County men who died Monday in a head-on collision are a modern day immigrant’s tale gone awry.
Sixteen-year-old Victor Hugo Caballero Ramirez moved to Breckenridge last month.
Determined to make a better life for his family in Oaxaca, Mexico, Ramirez said his goodbyes one month ago. That was the last time his parents and six siblings saw him alive.
It was his 21-year-old uncle, Miguel Ramirez Cruz, that was driving the red Dihatsu Monday evening. Ramirez was along for the ride back to his new home on 1600 Broken Lance Road in Breckenridge.
Investigators are trying to determine where the three men had been just before they began their fateful ride. Cruz’s blood-alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit for driving.
“Although we were just getting to know him well, Victor was a mellow, polite, nice young man,” said his Breckenridge aunt Elsa Ramirez Cruz, speaking through translators. “He had a vision. He wanted to be able to help his parents back in Mexico.”
Cruz took his nephew under his wing during his time in Breckenridge. They worked together at a Breckenridge restaurant on Peak 8.
In their free time, they played basketball at the Breckenridge Recreation Center.
The third person in the Dihatsu that hit Lauren Gentile’s Ford Explorer was Sergio Gutirrez Basillo.
Basillo worked at the Blue Spruce Inn on Main Street in Frisco the past four years. His co-workers called him “The Surgeon,” said Blue Spruce employee Mark Lipman.
“He was a joy to work with,” Lipman said. “Sergio had an innate ability to juggle 20 orders, get the bread in the oven, get the desserts out and get his prep done. All of this with a smile on his face, impeccable precision and an energy that was envied.”
Basillo leaves behind a young wife and three small children in Mexico City.
“Many of his co-workers and friends will never forget him,” said Lipman.
Elsa Ramirez Cruz is trying to pull together enough money to pay for funeral services for her nephew and brother. She has a memorial account set up at First Bank of Breckenridge.
The Funeralia Latina in Denver normally charges about $8,000 per person for transportation services and funeral arrangements. The state government possibly will contribute several thousand dollars toward the funerals.
Summit County resident Mazy Vasquez set up a donation box at the Dillon Valley East Clubhouse for the families of the three men, even though she did not know them. She said she will contribute all donations to the Family Intercultural Resource Center’s fund for the families.
“Everyone here from Mexico is like family. When my mother died, everyone gave a little bit. Without it, I wouldn’t have made it,” Vasquez said. “I saved some money by driving her back myself.”
Vasquez, a bilingual woman who works at the Dillon Valley East Clubhouse, said that nine years ago she spent thousands to bring her late mother from Vail to Mexico, and for a funeral.
When she heard alcohol was involved in the wreck, Vasquez felt even worse.
“I keep telling these guys in my neighborhood, ‘Why are you drinking and driving?!’ It’s just crazy,” Vasquez said. “Maybe we should put up some signs. Maybe now they will think twice.”
The Frisco staff of the Blue Spruce Inn this week wrote a tribute to their late co-worker. They are hosting a memorial fundraiser for Basillo’s family from 8-10 p.m. Monday at the restaurant on Frisco’s Main Street.
The last time they saw Basillo was the night before the accident, Lipman said.
Basillo’s co-workers were like his family in Summit County, while his blood-relations lived in Mexico, Lipman said.
Christine McManus can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229 or at email@example.com.
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