Auto repair shop donates car to family of 6-year-old Gilroy shooting victim

Giving Tuesday took on special meaning in Gilroy, for one family affected by the Garlic Festival mass shooting this summer.

Inside Caliber Collision, a black cover conceals a gift in the middle of the repair garage. Normally, at this time of year, the present unwrapping takes place under a tree. But this is no ordinary unveiling in Gilroy. For the first time, Barbara Aguirre sees her new set of wheels. 

“It feels great. Thanks to everybody who made it possible. I really appreciate,” she said, after sitting behind the wheel. A few minutes earlier, managers at the auto body shop announced Aguirre is the latest Garlic Festival shooting victim to get a helping hand from the community.

“This is just caliber’s way of saying hey, we are part of the community, we do wanna help where we can,” said Regional Vice President of Caliber Collison Justin Piper. 

Aguirre had her life turned upside down in late July, when accused gunman Santino Legan killed three people at the annual garlic festival, including her 6-year-old grandson.

“We’re getting through it, you know? That’s all we can do,” said Berta Aguirre, Barbara’s daughter.

To help tackle the difficult transition, and to better aid the spirited grandmother of eight who had an unreliable car, the Gilroy Foundation choose her to be the second recipient in the Recycled Rides program.

“When I walked in and saw the Aguirre’s today, you just get a little caught up in that emotion because you know what they have been through. They’ve lost a child. And there isn’t any money that’s going to replace that,” said Gilroy Foundation Board Member Karen Lacorte.

Geico Insurance donated a damaged 2015 Hyundai Elantra that the company purchased from the previous owner following an accident. The repair crew at Caliber Collison volunteered three weekends and some weekday evenings to take the car apart and revamp it. 

“The time that we gave up, we would get back in gratitude and thanks,” said Ruben Higareda, the general manager for the Gilroy Caliber Collision shop.

It’s the second time since the Summer tragedy an affected family has been helped in this way. And this time, the gift isn’t boxed, but instead, ready to drive. Aguirre turned the key to hear the engine on her new car roar to life.