Jessica’s House is giving an opportunity for those who knew and felt the loss of the victims of Sept. 5’s fatal hit and run to have a voice and feel empowered.
A 4-year-old boy, Brian Flores, his 20-year-old mother, Julia Agandar-Cruz, and his 47-year-old grandmother, Maria Elena Flores-Corrales, were hit and killed by a speeding driver on the night of Sept. 5 while walking. The suspect, Luis Miguel Cruz, 28, has been charged with three counts of murder, three counts of gross vehicular manslaughter, and felony hit and run and is being held on $4.5 million bail.
For these types of tragedies, Jessica’s House says they have a structure in place to help the families and community grieve in a safe, healthy manner. The structure includes crisis intervention, social responsiveness, and empowerment and social sensory interventions.
On Tuesday, Jessica’s House staff and volunteers walked around the neighborhood to hand out flyers for a Community Support Forum that was held on Wednesday at Cunningham Elementary School.
About 60 people from the community attended the forum that was held to “help restore a sense of safety and control for the victims’ family and community.” The guests were encouraged to share their feelings and channel their pain into positive solutions.
Those who attended felt empowered by suggesting the installation of speed bumps in the neighborhood and better lighting to prevent future tragedies.
The forum was facilitated by the Turlock school chaplain and Gloria Valdes, family services coordinator at Jessica’s House.
“I could feel the hurt in the room and I wanted to remind them that what they are feeling is normal,” said Valdes.
Valdes also provided information about common responses of a grieving child, signs and signals of a stress reaction, and a resource list for clothing and food, family wellness, shelter, alcohol and drug treatment, and suicide prevention.
Jessica’s House also facilitated a “Ceremony of Hope” at the scene of the collision on Thursday. There were candles and a sense of community as approximately 25 people who attended held hands, talked about hope, and spoke of their love for the victims.
“To see the community come together and support this grieving family was powerful,” said Erin Nelson, executive director of Jessica’s House. “I am grateful that Jessica’s House could be that bridge for this community to come together.”
A visitation will be held for the victims beginning at noon on Tuesday, followed by a rosary at 7 p.m. Both will be held at Allen Mortuary, located at 247 N. Broadway.
The bodies will be transported to Mexico for burial.
Memorial contributions can be made to Westside Ministries, 952 Columbia Ave., Turlock, CA, 95380.