Family mourns the loss of patriarch killed in Paradise Hills rollover crash

Posted at 1:15 PM, Feb 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-28 16:15:32-05

SAN DIEGO — A family is brokenhearted over the loss of family patriarch Tomas Medina.

He died at the hospital on Saturday morning after a horrific crash on Friday.

Daisy Duarte was one of his many grandchildren.

"I don't think he should have left the way he did," Daisy said as she hung her head and cried. "Because we always took care of him."

In a family of more than 400, Medina was the patriarch, but he still acted like a kid.

"He was always trying to get away with something," his grandson, Martin Duarte, explained.

"I would always tell him grandpa you can't eat that," Daisy said. "He would always be like, 'But, I'm hungry. Give me something to eat!' He loved his tacos."

He was diagnosed with dementia and was supposed to eat through a tube in his stomach.

Story after story from family members involved him trying to sneak food into his room.

They asked talked about he loved to show off his strength.

"He would just like always squeeze my hand, and he would always grab it hard," another grandkid explained. "I'm like 'Okay I give up! I give up!'"

On Friday, Medina was one of four people hurt after the minivan rolled over on westbound state Route 54 in the Paradise Hills area.

The crash was reported at about 10:30 a.m. on the westbound side near Woodman Ave., according to the California Highway Patrol. Officers said a vehicle hit a tractor-trailer and a minivan for St. Paul's PACE, a local senior services organization, heading to Chula Vista.

The minivan went over the guardrail and came to rest on the grassy center divider. The driver of the minivan sustained minor injuries. Some of the passengers inside the St. Paul's minivan were wheelchair-bound and needed to be cut from their seatbelts by good Samaritans that stopped to help following the crash. At least two passengers were strapped into their wheelchair.

The family gathered around Medina at the hospital. They said he was losing too much blood between a broken femur and a head injury.

"I grabbed his hand and I told him to hold my hand," Martin explained.

For the first time, he said, Medina did not squeeze back.

"I kind of do think he's in a better place," Daisy said.

Perhaps, a place where he can eat as many tacos as he wants.

A GoFundMe effort has been started to help the family pay for services so he can be laid to rest next to his late wife in Mexico.