GILROY, Calif. - On Wednesday, a grieving father opened up about the loss of his 15-year-old daughter in a reckless driving crash in hopes to save lives. San Jose Fire Captain Christopher Salcido spoke to a group of students and parents at Gilroy High School.
Salcido spoke on the very stage his 15-year-old daughter performed on. Natalia Salcido was a sophomore at Christopher High School in Gilroy who loved community theatre and cheer.
On Wednesday, Salcido recounted the worst day of his life.
“Had the other girls in the car not been distracted Natalia would still be with us,” said Christopher Salcido. “Natalia would be off in college right now.”
Four years ago, the night before Mother’s Day and the week before her Sweet 16, Natalia was a passenger in a car with friends. The driver was going 73 miles per hour in a 35 mile per hour zone on Miller Road in Gilroy.
The driver turned back to see another passenger’s Snapchat video. In that split second, the road curved and the car crashed into a tree killing Natalia.
“From the moment I wake up to sometimes when I cry myself to sleep,” said Natalia’s Mother Andora Salcido. “I think about Natalia and question why this happened to my family.”
“There was no alcohol, there was no drugs involved,” said Christopher Salcido.
They were all wearing seatbelts. CHP said the number one killer of young people is car crashes.
“We lost seven students in one year,” said Gilroy Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Deborah Flores. “It was so tragic.”
Many crashes revolve around reckless and distracted driving. CHP urged parents to set an example.
“Parents are the number one influencer of their teens driving behaviors,” said Officer Chris Miceli of Hollister-Gilroy CHP.
The Salcidos are taking their tragedy to young drivers.
“No one is invincible it could happen to anyone,” said Natalia’s Mother Andora Salcido.
Their strength stems from their love of Natalia.
“This happened to our family because we were meant to be her parents,” said Andora Salcido. “We were meant to carry on her story.”
“I didn't expect to cry,” said Ewa Boloczko of Gilroy. “It was very emotional for me.”
At least one student said it’s not worth it to cause so much pain.
“It causes a lot more devastation than I originally thought,” said Pawel Boloczko of Gilroy. “It ruins families, it ruins people's minds, and it causes a big hole in everybody's heart.”