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Caravan, vigil held Saturday night for North Las Vegas family killed in crash

Updated February 5, 2022 - 11:06 pm

Vehicles drove slowly along Cheyenne Avenue on Saturday in honor of seven family members killed in the state’s deadliest crash on record.

A tow truck led the procession with a poster tied to the front with pictures of the family members and a message: “Stop speed.”

Fernando Yeshua Mejia, 5; Adrian Zacarias, 10; Lluvia Daylenn Zacarias, 13; Bryan Axel Zacarias, 15; Gabriel Mejia-Barrera, 23; David Mejia-Barrera, 25; and Jose Zacarias-Caldera, 35, all died Jan. 29 in a crash at Cheyenne Avenue and Commerce Street.

Police said Gary Dean Robinson, 59, had accelerated his Dodge Challenger to more than 100 mph before blowing through a red light and smashing into a minivan. Robinson and his passenger, Tanaga Ravel Miller, 46, also were killed.

The crash is considered the deadliest in Nevada since the state began keeping track in 1991.

The caravan began at North Pecos and ended 2.5 miles away at the site of the crash. As cars approached the the intersection, they honked and then pulled into a vacant lot where a memorial had been set up in the past week filled with candles, flowers, balloons and stuffed animals.

Marko Gamboa, a pastor at El Shaddai Christian Center, stood on the bed of the tow truck alongside Erlinda Zacarias and her husband, Jesus Mejia-Santana.

Zacarias said those in the minivan included four of her children, two stepsons and her younger brother. The woman started a GoFundMe, which raised more than $300,000 as of Tuesday, when she closed the page.

On Saturday, she thanked the community for coming out to support her family and said that this tragedy could have happened to anyone.

Other speakers included U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford, Assemblyman Edgar Flores and North Las Vegas City Council members Isaac Barron and Pamela Goynes-Brown. Flores read the names of the victims, and the large crowd responded by repeating the names in unison. Seven minutes of silence was held to honor the seven family members killed.

“They were close, happy kids. Family meant everything to them,” said Henderson resident Elizabeth Nevarez, a longtime friend of the family. “Look how they traveled together. If you saw one, you saw all. They were outgoing kids. They had bright futures.”

Nevarez said that in the past week she found out a friend of hers knew Robinson.

“You know Vegas is so small, so it just came back full circle,” Nevarez said. “So everybody to me is a victim.”

After the speakers, Zacarias and Mejia-Santana walked to the memorial surrounded by those in attendance. Zacarias laid flowers at the memorial. Then they let off heart-shaped balloons into the sky. The poster that had been tied to the tow truck was tied to a nearby gate facing the memorial. The couple cried as they looked at the photos and touched each one.

Lincoln Elementary School teachers Elizabeth Murphy and Robbie Hansen participated in the caravan. Both have taught at the school for more than 15 years. All of Zacarias’ children attended Lincoln, most recently Fernando and Adrian.

“I’m in disbelief; we’re still in disbelief,” Murphy said. “You don’t expect that to happen, to lose a student.”

Barron and Gamboa helped organize Saturday’s caravan and vigil. Barron said the choice to have the caravan drive slowly was meant to send a message to the community to slow down and practice safe driving.

“The entire community has rallied around this family,” Barron said. “There’s been an outpouring of grief and a lot of support for the family. We’re here for the family.”

The Rev. Vance “Stretch” Sanders has organized a Sunday candlelight and prayer vigil in honor of everyone involved in the crash. The vigil is set for 4:30 p.m. at the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. statue, 1344 W. Carey Ave., in North Las Vegas.

Contact David Wilson at dwilson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @davidwilson_RJ on Twitter. Staff writer Sabrina Schnur contributed to this report.

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