Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Friday, Sept. 21, 2012 | 2 a.m.
A viewing will be held for Gerber Ayala-Tomasino Jr. on Friday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., at Davis Funeral Home at 6200 S. Eastern Ave. For those who wish to donate to help send Ayala-Tomasino Jr.’s body to his home in El Salvador can do so to the Wells Fargo account No. 7362293115.
Johnni Garner’s family has set up an account at Wells Fargo for donations under the name “Memorial fund for Johnni Garner” and account No. 7454100418.
The Chinese Association set up an account for critically injured Zexiang Wang at Nevada National Bank, account No. 210-4113.
Shock. Anger. Grief. Hundreds of teary-eyed people with solemn faces gathered around the candle-and-flower-filled memorial site at the Spring Mountain Road and Decatur Boulevard bus stop for a candlelight vigil Thursday night.
The crowd emitted warmth from the lit candles they clutched as the flames flickered in the dark. There are two nearby gashes in the parking lot and spray paint from a horrific accident scene, where one week prior, a car smashed into the bus stop, killing four people and injuring several.
People came to remember and reflect on the lives of Gerber Ayala-Tomasino Jr., Johnni Garner, Hyon Cooley and Margoth Gonzalez, as well as victims still in the hospital. Some came because they knew the victims, others because they were impacted by the events and wanted to pay respects.
All came for closure and support.
“It’s just overwhelming,” said Jessica Torres, who usually rode the bus with the four victims. “I’m so appreciative to see how many came out to show their appreciation for the loss of a loved one.”
Nonprofit organization Stop DUI provided candles and an outlet to speak. For nearly an hour, residents shared their emotions, stories about the victims and of life after losing a loved one from a DUI crash. So many people showed that Executive Director Sandy Heaverly said they ran out of candles.
“We wanted it to be therapeutic for the community, and help the victims’ families because they have a long journey ahead,” Heaverly said.
Jessica Amaya broke down into tears as she spoke about her 24-year-old stepbrother Ayala-Tomasino Jr. He was always quick with a smile and joke. He loved to dance and always brought gifts home from work for family members. That day he was just getting on the bus to go to work when a car took his life.
Through an interpreter, Lily Jiang spoke about her 19-year-old son Zexiang Wang, who was critically injured. He is a well-liked student and football player at Global Academy High School. He was awaiting a bus to take him to school that morning.
“I never knew so many people would come to support (victims’) families,” Wang’s aunt, Mimi Yao said.
Amy Darrow fought back tears throughout the vigil. She worked with Cooley for 12 years as a housekeeper at Treasure Island. Every day Cooley had a smile and hug for her. Humberto Rocha also knew Cooley, riding the bus with her for 15 years. She always teased him, calling him grandpa. She left behind a fiancé and daughter.
Darrow said she just couldn’t believe how senseless the accident was.
Torres said she knew all four victims. She said Margoth Gonzalez was they type of person who would give someone five money out of her pocket if they needed it. Torres wore purple in honor of Garner, and wrote poems for each of the victims.
The vigil came to an end with a brief prayer. Several stayed after and stared at the crosses, pictures, candles, bouquets of flowers and various fruits that filled the memorial.