Families grapple with loss of musicians and parents after Wimauma crash
Misael Lopez Velasco, 29, always called his family in Mexico twice a day and sent money every two weeks to support his wife and children, ages 2 to 10.
Lopez Velasco, a proud father who came to the United States a year and a half ago to work in construction, was playing bass for a Mexican folk band called Terras de Juarez.
He and four others died Sunday morning in a three-vehicle crash in southeastern Hillsborough County in a wreck that closed State Route 674 for hours until it reopened at 2 p.m. Along with Lopez Velasco, two other squads were killed Members: Drummer Osvaldo Lopez Flores, 23, and singer Perfecto Morales Gutierrez, 38 years old. Morales Gutierrez’s wife, Aurora, 38, who was also Lopez Velasco’s sister, also died. All of them lacked permanent legal status in the United States.
The accident also resulted in the death of a 42-year-old man, whose identity the forces did not reveal. Other details and circumstances of the accident remain under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol, spokesman Steve Gaskins said.
Families and friends of Terrace de Juarez members gathered on Wednesday In Orlando with Mexican Consul Juan Sapiens. They asked for help Mexican officials helped pay some of the funeral expenses and coordinate the return Lopez Flores’ body was transported to Mexico. As for the other families, they have not yet made their decision.
With a special visa and death certificate, the Mexican consulate can repatriate the body. Consulate $1,000 can also be contributed if the family does not have enough money and can help with other arrangements to prepare and dispose of the remains. Sabins said the request was approved for the families.
At about 7 a.m. Sunday, the band had just played at a religious ceremony in Immokalee honoring St. Jude Thaddeus, known in the Roman Catholic Church as the patron saint of desperate causes. The squad truck, a Toyota Tacoma traveling westbound on State Route 674, the main road in Wimauma, veered into the eastbound lanes and collided head-on with a Chevrolet Silverado. A third truck fell into a ditch.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the driver of the third truck was not injured, while the driver of the Chevrolet Silverado died.
Feliciano Velasco, a cousin of both Lopez Velasco and Aurora who lives in Hardee County, said he was saddened when he learned of the incident.
“They were very good people. Maisel arrived in the United States a year and a half ago and was working very hard,” Velasco said during an interview with the Tampa Bay Times. “Misel had a passion for music, and his sister Aurora was a good woman. “Perfecto was a good husband to her and they enjoyed helping others.”
Friends and relatives of Lopez Flores in Wimauma said he came from the Mexican state of Guerrero 10 months ago to send money to his wife and three children, ages 2 to 6. His family was very proud that he worked in construction and played the drums. For a popular band, according to his cousin Cesar Basilio. Lopez-Flores wanted to learn quickly and be part of the community, he said.
“My cousin was very dedicated to his work and his music. The last time I saw him was more than a week ago, and he was very cheerful,” Basilio said. “It is very difficult to understand what happened.”
A GoFundMe set up by Basilio has raised nearly $110 of the $10,000 goal to repatriate Lopez-Flores’ body and pay for the funeral.
Another GoFundMe has been set up to help Aurora and Perfecto Morales-Gutierrez’s children, Tyder, 17, and Brandon, 4. The couple had lived in the United States for more than 17 years. The family has not yet decided whether to bury the parents’ remains, cremate them or send them to Villa de Zachila in Oaxaca, Mexico, their birthplace. By Thursday morning, the page had raised more than $2,975. The goal was set at $30,000.
Dalia Morales, who was a friend of the victims, said everyone in Central Florida wanted the band to perform at local events, anniversaries and church celebrations. For many, they were the soul of Mexican culture.
“They were always willing to play music anywhere, get people dancing, and support local churches when needed,” Morales said. “It’s going to be hard to say goodbye.”