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Tucson woman dies in motorcycle crash months after her fiancé died the same way

"She was already a bright person but he made her shine so much more."
Mia Valencia
Posted at 5:39 AM, May 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-20 13:31:23-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — David Valencia looked through pictures of his daughter Mia that were taken throughout her 21 years of life. He reflected on her personality, recalling hanging out with her.

“She was like the son I never had, but she kind of was. She really wanted to step up there and be with dad all the time,” Valencia said.

About three times a year, Valencia and his family go up to Mount Lemmon to camp. David said Mia used to fish and hunt a lot.

Those interests are something David said she had in common with her fiancé Alex "Xander" Ryser.

“He loved hunting, hiking, and he was a good kid."

Xander passed away a few months ago. Like Mia, he was involved in a motorcycle crash. Mia was pregnant at the time, but lost the baby soon after.

“Even through all that she had a smile as bright as the sun,” Valencia said.

Mia Valencia died last Friday after riding as a passenger on a motorcycle that crashed into a guardrail. The Pima County Sheriff’s Department said it happened near mile post 5 and she was thrown into a nearby embankment after being ejected from the motorcycle.

Now a memorial sits on Mile Post 4 where her loved ones have placed flowers and pictures of her, even writing messages for her on the guard rail.

Paige Opichka and Mia were friends since middle schools and she remembers her bright personality, especially around Xander.

“She was already a bright person but he made her shine so much more,” Opichka said.

Opichka remembers growing up with Mia and spending a lot of time together at a park near where Opichka lives.

“She made childhood like actual childhood. It wasn’t just being on our phones and sitting around. She made it like being outside,” she said.

Now Mia’s loved ones, like her father, are hoping to raise awareness about the importance of motorcycles and cars looking out for each other.

“Motorcycles aren’t as strong as you think. A little bump, you can send somebody flying, and that’s somebody’s child, somebody’s parent, somebody’s uncle, aunt. It doesn’t take a lot, so I think awareness needs to go both ways,” David said.

Andrew Christiansen is a reporter for KGUN 9. Before joining the team, Andrew reported in Corpus Christi, Texas for KRIS6 News, Action 10 News and guest reported in Spanish for Telemundo Corpus Christi. Share your story ideas with Andrew by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, or Twitter.