Family remembers father and 7-year-old boy killed in Fresno Co. crash by DUI driver

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- A memorial has been building at the crash site where a father and his 7-year-old son were killed Saturday.

Four other family members were also injured.

The family was headed home Saturday evening after celebrating a first communion in Selma.

Family members say they are devastated and don't understand why the other driver chose to get behind the wheel while under the influence.

"We are suffering. We are hurting, like our lives aren't going to be the same," said Ruby Pimental. Her brother Jose Castillo, loving known as Pepe, was killed in the crash.

His son, 7-year-old Jose Castillo Jr., also known as JJ, died at the scene as well.

Pimental said Castillo was a farmworker and the sole-provider for his wife and six children.

"So loving, so amazing, extended help to anyone and everyone that needed it," she said about Castillo.

She said JJ was a happy kid and was extremely close to his brother, and twin, Nathaniel.

"He was so smart, so sweet so playful," Pimental said.

Just before the crash, the family was together in Selma celebrating 12-year-old Sara's first communion.

The Castillo family was less than a mile away from home when the crash happened at North and Marks Avenues.

"This particular vehicle, which was a Dodge pickup, had ran the stop sign traveling northbound on Marks as it approached north, colliding with a family in a 2003 Escalade," said California Highway Patrol Sergeant Matt Radke.

The CHP said 22-year-old Jovan Cortez was driving under the influence and had his 10-month old daughter with him.

Their pickup burst into flames, but Fresno County Sheriff's Deputies were nearby and were able to pull both of them out. The baby was not hurt.

Deputies were already in the area looking for Cortez in connection to a domestic violence call they received shortly before the crash.

Cortez was arrested and booked into jail for vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence. He's being held on $400,000 bail.

"This is not an accident." Sgt. Radke said. "This is a choice that people make. It's a selfish choice that people make that causes tragedy for other families."

The CHP said the only person using a seatbelt in the Castillo family vehicle was the mom, Cristi.

Pimental said she had moderate injuries and was expected to be released from the hospital Monday.

Sara, 12, is still in critical condition at Community Regional Medical Center.

Nathaniel, 7, JJ's twin brother, had surgery on his leg and is recovering at Valley Children's Hospital.

Ariana, 4, was not severely injured and is at home with family members.

Castillo's sister said she doesn't know why they weren't wearing seatbelts, but said she's devastated that the other driver chose to get behind the wheel while under the influence.

"They would've made it home. They would've made it home," Pimental said.

All four of the children in the crash attended the West Park School District.

School officials said they will be providing grief counseling for students and staff.

The family has created a GoFundMe page to help with funeral and medical expenses, you can find that here.
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