His body lay in the street. A large utility truck had been parked in a field, the bright glow of its headlights illuminating two men in reflective gear. It appeared they were guarding him, protecting him from further harm. Two others were crouched at his side, desperately doing their best, pleading with him, with his heart, to hang on.
‘Mummy, there’s a body there. In the street.’ My mother was skeptical until I continued, describing what I’d seen. ‘We need to call it in. I am not fucking around. Mummy, it could have been my dad!’
Already reaching for my phone, it’s clear I don’t need to make that call. Sirens bleat, their sound rapidly becoming louder. Louder still. Help arrives. I can’t watch —don’t want to see more. We’re in route to the pharmacy as it is. I call in an additional prescription for Xanax. It hurts. Effects more than it should.
Tonight I learned his name: Genaro Zaragoza-Valencia. Tonight I learned that he’d died from injuries sustained in a hit & run as he was walking near a convenience store around 7pm on Monday, November 25. Tonight I learned he was 73 years old.
I am not a relative, friend, or acquaintance of Mr. Valencia’s. I don’t know anything of his life, the kind of man he was in life, if he’d been happy… if he’d found love. I don’t even know his face. And yet I know the pain of people who must have known him.
My life spiraled downwards following my beloved father suffering a thoracic aortic aneurysm on November 2, 2012. Suffice to say, despite the miracle my family received, the aftermath of the past year has forever altering the person I was 1 year ago.
As we near Thanksgiving, it should go without saying that I am blessed to have my father by my side. And yet upon reading the news that Mr. Valencia, a stranger, had passed away due to what I can only believe to be not only a senseless act of carelessness, but a tragedy in which there is to be Thanksgiving or Christmas miracle, I cried.
I’m sure part of me cried for what once was, but more than that, I cried because the image of this man lying in the street with bystanders whom had presumably stopped to help after the driver decided to leave him to die like a piece of garbage is unfathomable. Whomever Mr. Valencia was in life, whatever his circumstances, I have to believe that there is a family who is now grieving their father, son, brother, grandfather, uncle, and possibly a very dear friend.
I write this post because this image has haunted me for the past 24 hours. This man, this 73-year-old man, deserves justice. He could have been your father or grandfather. He could have been mine. The outline of his body. The position of the bystanders trying to aid, offer comfort, save his life until professional help arrived are forever burned in to my memory.
Death is a painful part of life. I know this. I understand it. And yet for those of us who’ve experienced loss, especially as we enter the holiday season, there is a void, a bitterness, a hurt that runs deeper than anything I can possibly put in to words. It does not go away.
I lost a loved one whom medical science was able to save. Mr. Valencia and his family were not so lucky. Please, please, please, if you have any information whatsoever, I am asking as a daughter —a daughter who has an elderly father, please contact the Salt Lake Police Department about this case if you have further information. The answers may be difficult for a family to hear, but I can say they deserve that much.
Visit the Salt Lake Tribune for further details as to how to contact the Salt Lake Police Department with any information that can help Mr. Valencia and his survivors receive some semblance of justice.
(John Roman, Getty Images/iStockphoto)