Immigrant couple from El Salvador dies in crash caused by drunk driver


February 5 is a day that Ronnie Carranza will never forget: his older brother José Jaime Carranza and his wife Milagro Nieto-Campos lost their lives in seconds when they were hit by a car whose driver was driving at high speed under the influence of alcohol and presumably other drugs.

Ronnie himself is alive by a miracle, by inexplicable designs, he did not die in the fateful crash.

The Carranza-Nieto family begs the community for their donations for their parents’ funerals. If you can help, visit the GoFundMe site:

Jaime was 54 years old, and his wife Milagro, 49 years old. They were the parents of three children Steve, Jaime and Alexis, now of legal age. José and Milagro were immigrants from El Salvador. They had been living in the Pacoima neighborhood of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles for 18 years. Only their second child is born in the United States.

José Jaime Carranza and Milagro Nieto died on Saturday, February 5. (Courtesy)

The couple worked in companies dedicated to the installation of tents for special events.

His dream was to return to El Salvador to live, where he had a small plot, says Ronnie.

But that desire to return to the homeland that saw them born came crashing down violently on Saturday, February 5, when they were hit by a car on Highway 10 near the city of Colton in San Bernardino County. driven at excessive speed.

“It was like 2 in the morning. We came from the Casino in the city of Cabazon. Jaime did not like to go, but they convinced him to go. On the way back, the car started to heat up. My brother was afraid of not being able to reach the gas station that was already very close. So we pulled over to the side of the road. The space was wide enough. So it was almost impossible for them to hit us. That’s what I believed.”

Ronnie was in the back seat, and he was the one who got out of the car to open the hood and check the engine. “Hurry up! I want to get there early!” my brother told me.

“We needed about 55 minutes to get home. He had calculated that by 3:01 in the morning we would arrive.

In that I was next to Milagro’s window, when I felt an explosion that threw me about 10 feet from the car. It was like a hot wind coming from the back. I don’t know how long it took me to react and I started crying when I saw my brother’s car completely destroyed..

His brother was driving a Nissan Versa and the person who hit them, a Toyota Cambridge.

He reports that the driver of the car that rammed them from behind is a 27-year-old woman.

“His car was engulfed in flames. Other drivers who stopped to help and I started to put dirt on the car to control the fire, and we got it out. She didn’t even know where she was, she had lost her mind, but nothing happened to her”.

After the impact, Ronnie started calling his brother. Where are you? he yelled at her.

When the paramedics took him out of the car that was split in two, he tried to revive him, because he was still alive.

He asked him to come back and hugged him! Within a few minutes she died. His wife lost her life instantly.

Ronnie remembers his brother, as a very cautious man, without vices, he did not smoke.

“He had a strong character, very intelligent, very active, he called me ‘lazy’, get down to business! because I’m a little overweight.

Ronnie, his wife, and their two children, ages 11 and 4, lived with their brother, who rented a room for them. “My children called him grandfather. José loved my children as if they were his.”

And he describes his sister-in-law as an angel and a person of peace.

“Sometimes when my brother got angry, he told me, don’t pay attention to him, it’s just that he brings a lot of work.”

In addition to his children, siblings and nephews, José is survived by his 90-year-old mother. “He was his support. He spoiled her so much. She has been devastated. She tells me that she would not have endured that both of us had died”.

Ronnie still doesn’t know how she survived the tragic crash.

“I think my sister-in-law saved my life when she asked me to give her my coffee. If she had opened the door or stuck her head in. She wouldn’t be here today telling what happened. It was all a matter of seconds,” she says sadly.

But even though he has survived, Ronnie can’t get his older brother and sister-in-law out of his mind. “These days I have spent talking, by myself, with my brother,” she says.

He says that the information provided by the police revealed that the driver who caused the tragedy is Latina, was driving at 120 miles per hour, had the lights off, and was under the influence of alcohol. “The police think that she had also used other drugs. She was doing very badly.”

They also have a witness who came behind her, who filmed her erratic driving.

“I’m going to go to court, and I’m going to tell her I forgive her.”

José Jaime Carranza loses his life in an accident that could have been avoided. (Courtesy)

But Ronnie called on the community not to drive drunk.

“If you drink, call someone to come get you. In case they drive like that, they can kill someone and leave a family suffering.”

He says that what happened is an irony, because his brother did not even drink a beer.

The community has shown great generosity, raising more than $14,800 in just 3 days to help the Carranza family, fundraising campaign organizers say.

The GoFundMe organizer says, “The world mourns the loss of 2 hard-working people due to a senseless act. José and Milagro worked tirelessly in the event industry and were part of major event and tent rental companies located in the Los Angeles area.”

José Jaime Carranza and Milagro Nieto find death at the hands of a drunk driver. (Courtesy)

Nationwide, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported 10,142 deaths in alcohol-related crashes in 2019, but on average 10,000 people die each year at the hands of drunk drivers.

What’s more, across the country, every 52 minutes, someone dies in alcohol-related accidents.

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, in Los Angeles County in 2019, there were 7,271 deaths and injuries from alcohol-involved crashes. The most dangerous hours in which an incident related to alcohol and other drugs can occur, is between 9 at night and 2:59 in the morning.

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