EL PASO, Texas - Late Nov. 25, 2013 Update:
Two Borderland families are dealing with the sudden loss of loved ones.
The Bowie and Chapin High School football teams are back in El Paso. Both teams returned Monday afternoon without two players who lost relatives during this weekend's inclement weather.
Chapin senior Elijah Perales lost his father, Hector Perales, who was heading to Amarillo to watch his son play when the van he was riding in hit black ice. It slid into the wreckage of another crash that happened moments before.
Perales was a teacher at Pasodale Elementary School in the Lower Valley. ABC-7 spoke with neighbors and friends who knew him and with Chapin High students who knew his son.
A fellow teacher and lifelong friend, who graduated from Irvin High School in 1984 with Perales, remembered him as a very good father, friend, teacher and husband.
"We've been friends since high school, almost 30 years," said Lory Garcia, a first grade teacher at Edgar Park Elementary School where Perales used to substitute before getting a job teaching at Pasodale Elementary in the Lower Valley. "We've lost a great man. Those students at his school, I just can't imagine what is going to happen to them."
ABC-7 spotted an employee at Pasodale Elementary School putting up the letters for a sign in honor of Perales on Monday morning. It spelled out: "In Loving Memory of Mr. Perales."
Garcia showed ABC-7 a picture of Perales and his wife, Alma, from last year's Christmas party. Alma broke her ankle in the wreck.
"He loved what he was doing," Garcia said. "That was his calling. He was always just a hands-on dad. Alma too. They loved each other, just loved each other.
"It's a tragedy," said Chapin junior soccer player Samantha Valles, who knows Perales' son Elijah. "Losing your father right before the holidays. My heart broke. I just couldn't believe it."
"It's real sad," said Ben Wadsworth, who lives next to the Perales' in Northeast El Paso. "Ghey were good people. I've always known them to be friendly and everything and it's just sad to hear that somebody that nice had such a bad thing happen to him."
ABC-7 asked Garcia what she will miss about Perales most.
"Talking to him," Garcia said. "He was just a great talker. I mean, just his hugs, his, just being around him. Just a happy man. He touched a lot of people's lives, teachers ... He was always there, just a good guy. He had a lot to offer a lot of people."
Perales's sons Elijah, 18, and Noah, 14, are in Amarillo with their mother. Their grandparents remain hospitalized in Amarillo, where their grandfather had hip surgery, according to Chapin coach Rene Hernandez.
Early Nov. 25, 2013 Update: Three El Paso high school football teams are making their way back home today.
They were all stuck in different cities because this weekend's storms made driving conditions so bad.
Two El Pasoans who went to see the football games were killed in separate traffic accidents.
A sign is now up at Pasodale Elementary School in honor of Hector Perales. Perales, the father of a Chapin High senior football player, was a 4th grade teacher at Pasodale.
He was heading to Amarillo to watch the Chapin team play when the van he was in hit black ice and slid into another vehicle. Everyone else in the family survived the wreck.
Then another crash happened between Van Horn and the I-20 interchange when a family was returning home from watching the Bowie playoff game. The woman killed in the crash was the grandmother of one of the players has been identified as Maria Cano by the team's coach.
She was traveling in a van with 10 family members.
Chapin started their drive back from Amarillo late Monday morning. Bowie stayed in Midland and Del Valle stayed in Odessa and both teams also are expected to drive back to El Paso today.
Nov. 24, 2013 Story: Two El Pasoans were killed in separate crashes this weekend while en route to or from high school football games out of town.
The father of a Chapin High School football player was killed in a crash near Amarillo just before midnight Saturday. The crash involved nearly a dozen vehicles on I-40 in Oldham County and is being blamed on the weather. Two other people were killed in the crash and several others were hurt.
The father was identified as Hector Perales who was a teacher at Pasodale Elementary in the Ysleta Independent School District.
"The Ysleta ISD family is heartbroken to learn about the loss of one of our
beloved fourth grade teachers, Mr. Hector Perales.," YISD Superintendent Dr. Anna L. Perez said in a statement. "Mr. Perales was a motivator, a father figure, and truly cared about his students at Pasodale Elementary. He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with him, his family, and the Pasodale community".
Grief counselors will be at Pasodale for students and staff on Monday,
December 2, when the district opens after the Thanksgiving break.
A Culberson County Sheriff's spokesman told ABC-7 Sunday that a fatal wreck involving an El Paso family occurred while they were traveling home from a high school football game. He said a van with 11 people returning from Bowie's game crashed and that one of the van's occupants was killed.
El Paso Independent School District officials said the person in the van that died was the grandmother of a Bowie football player.
"This has been a sad and tragic weekend for our EPISD family," Superintendent Juan Cabrera said. "We are heartbroken by the loss of the grandmother of a Bowie football player and the father of a Chapin football player. Our thoughts and prayers remain with both families, and the Chapin and Bowie communities during this difficult time. We are here to support the families and the school communities"
Grief counselors will be made available at both campuses when the students return.
EPISD officials continue to be concerned about the dangerous road conditions from Amarillo and Midland to El Paso. A decision had been made for both the Chapin and Bowie football teams, band and staff to travel home Monday when road conditions are expected to improve.
Principals will be checking the roads and conditions with TxDot before they make a decision to leave on Monday.