Family, friends come together to honor Fresno County rollover crash victims

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- "He put a roof over my head and he put me on my feet, he got me my job... I can't talk about this," Joanna Gonzalez said overwhelmed with emotion.

Friday night her boyfriend 21-year-old Daniel Ruiz died in a rollover accident on State Route 168 near Harlon Ranch.

"He was the backbone of every relationship he had. He took care of his family, he took care of me and he took care of my family," Gonzalez said.

In the car with Ruiz was 20-year-old Ismael Cortez. Detectives with the California Highway Patrol said he was driving the vehicle that night.

"He will walk into a room, you'll see his smile and it will just brighten everybody's day, he would just say the weirdest funniest things just to see everybody else smile and laugh," said Ismael's friend, Jennifer Sicairos.

According to investigators, the two men were traveling on Highway 168 between Shepherd and Academy Avenues at a high rate of speed when the car veered off the road. The driver overcorrected, causing the vehicle to flip several times.

Detectives say the Ruiz and Cortez were not wearing seat belts and were ejected from the car. They were rushed to the hospital where they later died.

"It is just hard to believe this happened, we didn't expect it and when we heard about it we thought it was a lie," said Juan Trujillo, a friend of the victims. "Then we found out it was real and it was hard for everyone especially because they were so young."

The young men's closest friends came together to uplift each other and to help the grieving families. They're raising money for funeral expenses through a series of car washes.

"We made sure that we handled it over here as a group of friends because that is exactly what they would do if it was the other way around," Trujillo said.

All of them still trying to come to terms with the loss. Ruiz's brother and sister are struggling the most.

"I love him a lot and I wish I hung out with him a little bit more," said Ruiz's brother Jose.

Investigators say they do not believe alcohol or drugs were a factor in the crash.

Next Friday friends will be holding another car wash here Elm and Church from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Both families have also set up GoFundMe accounts for Ismael's funeral and Daniel's funeral.
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