A Sonoma Valley family is mourning the loss of five relatives who died in a fiery automobile crash Tuesday night near Fresno while returning home from a trip to Mexico.
Martha Colin, 52, a longtime Press Democrat carrier from Sonoma; her grandchildren Ixzel, 10; Luis, 8; Jorge “Jorgie,” 1; and daughter-in-law Idalia Perez, 32, were all killed in the crash on Interstate 5 in Fresno County, the CHP reported.
The five were identified by Colin’s son, Jorge Colin, 36, also of Sonoma, whose wife was eight months pregnant with their second son when she died, he said.
“Any minute we were expecting my fourth child, my second with her, and then this tragedy happened,” said Jorge Colin, who like his mother delivers The Press Democrat and other publications. “It’s not only my family we’re grieving, it’s my mom too.”
The crash happened at about 9:15 p.m. when a pickup truck carrying five members of the Colin family crossed over from the northbound lanes into the southbound side of I-5 near the town of Firebaugh, the CHP said.
The truck collided head-on with a big rig carrying cardboard, causing both vehicles to burst into flames.
Jorge Colin said he had talked to his wife minutes before authorities received the first reports of the collision.
The group had crossed back into the United States at about 11 a.m. following a weeklong trip to Mexicali to visit Martha Colin’s parents. Jorge Colin, who also works at Sonoma Valley Community Health Center, stayed behind in Sonoma County to work while the rest of his family made the trip.
During the call Tuesday night, Jorge Colin and his wife discussed that she would likely arrive home at around midnight, and he reminded her to drive safely, he said. He noted nothing unusual about the call.
“When I got up at 2 in the morning I saw that she wasn’t home so I started calling her but the phone went directly to voicemail,” Colin said, adding that he called every five minutes until he had to leave for the paper route. “It was that feeling you get, that something is wrong.”
Local authorities visited his home at about 3:15 a.m. to contact the owner of the truck the five rode in. They told Colin about the crash and asked him who was in the truck.
Colin was told the coroner will need to compare dental records before officially naming the five people who died in the crash.
Martha Colin leaves behind her husband, Martin Colin; son Jorge Colin and his four younger siblings, Yesenia, Martin, Sulema and Jesus; and 10 grandchildren.
Martha Colin and her kids first moved to Sonoma from her home state of Michoacán, Mexico, in 1988 to reunite with her husband before returning south of the border two years later. After a brief stint there and in Los Angeles, she moved back to Sonoma with her children, where they’ve lived ever since, Jorge Colin said.
She began delivering The Press Democrat, the Sonoma Index-Tribune and other newspapers to homes in the Sonoma area in 2006, taking over a job her husband first picked up in 1997, Jorge Colin said.
Most recently, Idalia Perez, Jorge Colin’s wife, worked as a hairstylist in Sonoma.
The couple first connected over Facebook and then met in person in December 2012 while Idalia Perez was living in Mexico, about 40 minutes away from where Martha Colin was raised.
“We started texting and … the rest is history,” Jorge Colin said. “We clicked right away, she was beautiful.”
They had a civil marriage in Tijuana less than a year later and she joined Jorge Colin and his children in Sonoma, though her parents still live in Mexico. She excelled as a mother to Colin’s eldest children and after a little over four years of trying to have a child with Colin, she became pregnant with Jorgie.
“He was her love, her everything,” Colin said, adding that their son would have turned 2 next week.
His eldest daughter, Ixzel, was a freckled fourth grader at El Verano Elementary School in Sonoma.
“Every teacher that had the privilege to teach Ixzel said the same thing, ’Good-hearted but shy at the same time.’ She always wanted to do extra work when she was at school,” he said.
She was kind to her brother Luis, who was obsessed with toy guns and Hot Wheels cars, Colin said.
Colin and his wife were surprised when she became pregnant again with another boy, he said. During her most recent medical appointment before leaving for Mexico, the doctor told the couple their child was already positioned with his head facing down, signaling that he was nearly ready to see the world.
“You wake up and you lose your whole family. Your wife, your kids and your mom,” Colin said. “I don’t wish this on anybody.”
A GoFundMe fundraiser has been set up to help the Colin family.
The funds raised will help the family making final arrangements.
- Susan Burnett-Hampson
Organizer and beneficiary
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