Families remember couple killed in suspected DUI crash in west central Fresno

Alyssa Flores Image
Saturday, September 17, 2022
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Two Mendota families are struggling to deal with their heartbreak after their children were killed in a DUI crash.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The mother of 20-year-old Mariano Cruz clenches the ground where her son's car came tumbling down, ultimately killing him and his girlfriend, 18-year-old Emily Ochoa Ascencio.

The couple was headed from Mendota to Fresno on a very early Saturday morning to drop Emily off at work when the California Highway Patrol says 21-year-old Eugene Roebuck was driving under the influence, changed lanes and collided with the couple's car.

Both cars went down an embankment near Highway 99 and McKinley Avenue. Emily and Mariano didn't survive after hitting a tree. She was wearing a seatbelt.

"They were kids," says Maria Ochoa, Emily's mom. "They deserved to live and that was taken away. Their lives were decided for them."

Emily was working toward becoming a pediatric nurse. She adored children and couldn't wait to be a mom herself.

Emily and Mariano were junior high school sweethearts.

"They had dreams of building a life together," says Nataly Cruz, Mariano's mother. "They were young. They wanted to start a family."

Now, the young couple will be together forever.

Their mothers have made the decision to bury them side by side.

"They were just starting to fly and this man took away their wings," Nataly said.

They say their families will continue to stand together too as they work to get justice for their children's deaths.

"We are united in our pain and we are not going to stop," Nataly said.

Roebuck was able to post bond after the crash and was released from jail. He is set to appear in court November 8.

The Fresno County District Attorney's Office tells ABC30 that they are still awaiting reports from CHP before deciding whether they will file DUI charges.

"We want him to feel the full weight of the law," Nataly said.

A GoFundMe has been started to help pay for funeral expenses.

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