Family, friends remember those killed in Madera County crash

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Laughter - that's how Nannette Degough will always remember her father. Joe Avila dedicated his life to coaching and those he's touched called to share memories with his daughter.

"I don't know how to deal with never seeing him again, and I think maybe a lot of people do this, but you kind of take your dad for granted that he'll always be there for you."

Avila was an incredible athlete. He was also a former Hanford football coach. Even at 75-years-old, he was active. On Saturday, he was returning from a golf invitational in Reno with two friends when disaster struck.

"There's multiple times in my life I've woken up to a stranger laying on our coach. or we'd have a holiday gathering and my dad would bring a wayward soul in and give him a place to stay."

Friends say Avila's good friend, Billy Siegel, shared those same qualities. The former Lemoore Mayor was the one driving Saturday at the intersection of Road 30 and Avenue 9. CHP officers say another car ran a stop sign and didn't give Siegel enough time to react. The collision caused his pickup truck to overturn, killing all three people inside.

RELATED: 3 killed, 3 injured in crash on Highway 99 in Madera County

"All of our lives are enriched and made more valuable by us knowing Billy and our experience with him," said Mike Bachmier, Siegel's longtime friend.

Siegel served on city council from 2008 to 2016. His fellow councilmembers say he ran for office to stop bureaucracy that was crippling small businesses in his town.

"He fought for this community, for people who wanted to succeed in this community, he looked out for them," said former city councilmember John Gordon.

Siegel was also an avid skier who taught at the Central California Adaptive Sports Center. His family says he would want donations sent there in lieu of having flowers.

There was a third friend riding with Siegel and Avila. Taylor Hanning, a Hanford business owner, also did not survive the crash. CHP officers say the two people in the Dodge Charger who ran the stop sign were also killed in the fiery crash.
Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.