A month after a car wreck killed a 19-year-old Galt man and badly injured his girlfriend and two younger sisters, family friends have rallied the entire community for a fundraiser.
The Sunday spaghetti dinner will help pay for Victor Martinez's burial expenses and medical bills for his sisters. But the fundraiser doesn't stop at dinner. Countless businesses have offered raffle items, ranging from Kirkwood ski lift tickets, to wine, to tickets for the wax museum in San Francisco.
It's a way Cheryl Perucca can help Martinez's mother, Delia Gomez.
"When I was losing my house and going through a short sale, she went and bought me juice and milk and cereal," said Perucca, who baby-sat for Gomez, who has five other children.
Gomez, for her part, is grateful for the effort. Her husband runs his own appliance repair business in Galt, and she went back to work after her son said he would help with childcare.
"He'd take care of them so much. He went to his cousin's baby shower, and he won the contest for who could change the diaper the quickest," Gomez said Tuesday as she laughed and then fought back tears.
On July 16, her son was driving north on Highway 99 when his car drifted off the roadway, up an embankment, hit the C Street overcrossing and rolled over. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital. The cause of the collision remains under investigation, the California Highway Patrol said Tuesday.
At the time of the collision, Martinez was taking his sisters to eat and then to the Galt pool, his mother said.
His girlfriend was hospitalized for several weeks. She still has memory loss and doesn't remember that her boyfriend died, said Perucca's daughter, Angie Nixon.
His sisters suffered multiple fractures.
The youngest, 6-year-old Anisha, had fractures to her arm and is still wearing a cast, Gomez said. Malika, 9, suffered fractures to her pelvis and still needs a walker to get around — though she's determined to go back to school without it, her mother said.
As if that wasn't enough, the girls were recently in another minor vehicle collision with their grandmother, who is helping the family.
Martinez was Gomez's first child, born when she was a teenager.
"He used to say, 'Mom, you're the princess and I'm the knight, I have to take care of you,'" she said.
He attended Galt High School for two years, then moved to Stockton with his grandmother, where he graduated from Cesar Chavez High School. He was attending San Joaquin Delta College and wanted to become an architect, his mother said.
Contact reporter Layla Bohm at email@example.com.