A father of three was killed on Father’s day in a hit-and-run while helping to push a stranger’s broken down Jeep. The incident happened just after 11 p.m., June 17, in Escondido, California.
Octavio Escatal, 38, had stopped to help a 70-year-old driver and his family whose Jeep Grand Cherokee had broken down in one of the lanes of Highway 78 near a stop light. The two men happened to be friends from Escondido High School, reported NBC San Diego.
As the two men were pushing the Jeep, a Toyota Rav4 crashed into a car behind the Jeep, which hit Escatal.
Meanwhile, the Jeep driver, who was near the driver’s side door to steer it, was knocked to the ground and sustained head injuries. The family of the Jeep driver had been waiting on the side of the roadway.
Paramedics rushed the two men to hospital. Escatal died at Palomar Medical Center less than 30 minutes after the crash, according to Times of San Diego. The Jeep’s driver was treated for head trauma.
According to police, the teenage driver of the Rav4 fled the scene. California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers later found him at Rally’s restaurant in Escondido. He was arrested on DUI charges. Police found a loaded handgun, drugs, and drug paraphernalia in his car.
The deadly crash closed several lanes of traffic in the area overnight as CHP officers investigated.
Escatal was on his way home from the San Diego County Fair with his longtime girlfriend, according to NBC San Diego. He had started the day celebrating Mexico’s win against Germany in the FIFA World Cup, and then celebrated Father’s day.
Escatal’s brother said that he had moved to the United States from Mexico 20 years ago, and was planning to marry his girlfriend, Blanca. Instead, she witnessed the crash that killed him.
“I just collapsed with Blanca. Both of us collapsed,” Octavio’s brother Gustavo said, according to NBC San Diego.
“Why did this happen to my brother when he only was trying to help someone move out of the way? Why did this happen to my brother?”
Gustavo wrote on GoFundMe that he “died a hero.”
“My brother leaves behind his (three) young children ages 16, 12 and 9.”
Gustavo set up a GoFundMe account To help with fundraising efforts for Escatal to have a proper burial.