1 of 5 killed in crash near Table Mountain Casino remembered by family

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- "He didn't come home, so I figured maybe he just went out with a few buddies."

When 32-year-old Marcelino Rodriguez's mother woke up Saturday morning, she learned that he did in fact spend the night at Table Mountain casino with friends from work.

At about 4:30 am, Marcel was riding in the back seat of a Hyundai headed south on Millerton Road.

California Highway Patrol says drunk driving is likely why the driver of the Hyundai crossed over the center medium and hit a Honda sedan head-on.

Everyone in the Hyundai died at the scene of the crash. None of the men were wearing seatbelts.

RELATED: 5 killed, 2 severely injured in crash near Table Mountain Casino

In the Honda was a group of cousins that had also spent time at Table Mountain Friday night.

Two of them were rushed to the hospital, but 48-year-old Ramandeep Sran died at the scene.

Marcel's family is one of five that's processing the tragedy, which included breaking the news to his 14-year-old daughter.

Marcel's father says his son looked forward to going to work at Valley Chrome every day and eventually hope to hear from the families of his friends who were also victims in the crash.

Valley Chrome released a statement, saying: "This is a tragic loss for our Valley Chrome Family. They will be greatly missed. Right now, our thoughts and prayers are with their loved ones and all those who have been affected by this tragedy."

His parents say Marcel poured over the bible daily, shared its message with anyone who would listen and recently had been helping the family rekindle relationships.

"The whole family was reconnected because of him," says Hilberto Valdivia.

This week, on what would have been Marcel's 33rd birthday, his family and friends will get together to celebrate him in a way they never could have imagined.

"Don't be afraid to call mom or dad, a friend, an uncle, an aunt," says Christine Gonzales. "You're never too old to call mom or dad."

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