BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Yonadan Inga, Marino Inga and William Bernardo-Zapaico arrived in separate journeys from Peru to the U.S. within the past year in the hopes of finding better lives and making enough money to send home to their families.
All three were killed Saturday morning when a speeding van collided into the pickup they were traveling in on Highway 58 west of Fairfax Road.
"All the dreams are breaking with this accident," said Wilson Inga, a relative of the men. He was a cousin of the Ingas and an uncle of Bernado-Zapaico, he said Thursday.
Wilson Inga said Yonadan, 22, and Marino, 20, had each been in Bakersfield several months after first arriving in Idaho. They worked as sheepherders there, a job they'd also done in Peru.
Bernardo-Zapaico, 27, arrived in Bakersfield Friday evening. He'd be dead within 24 hours.
All of them are from a small town in the Junin region of Peru where family is important, the people are happy but the money scarce, Wilson Inga said.
"The wage over there was not enough to support their families," he said.
Wilson Inga arrived in the U.S. in 1993. He also worked as a sheepherder, but now drives trucks for a living. He said Yonadan and Marino were working as landscapers.
He kept in touch with them over the years through Facebook and phone calls, as well as annual or semiannual trips to Peru. Wilson Inga said he'd been teaching them about laws in the U.S., especially driving laws.
They'd both done well in adjusting, Wilson Inga said. He hadn't seen Bernardo-Zapaico in 15 years, but feels confident he would have done well for himself, too. All of them liked music and soccer, he said.
The California Highway Patrol has said the crash that killed the men occurred about 7:40 a.m. when James Luschen, of North Las Vegas, Nev., lost control of his westbound 2006 Chevrolet Express van. Officers said the van crossed the median before striking the left side of the eastbound pickup carrying the men before rolling over the truck's roof and landing on the embankment south of the highway.
Luschen, 40, was also killed in the crash.
Wilson Inga said he and others who knew the men are holding a fundraiser in Beach Park starting about 9 a.m. Sunday. They'll be selling plates of Peruvian food, including chaufa, or fried rice, and ceviche.
Beach Park is located at Oak and 21st streets.
Donations for the men's funeral expenses can also be made at Basham Funeral Care, Inga said. He said the bodies will be shipped to Peru for burial.