KGUN 9NewsOperation Safe Roads


"He was a superhero": Family grieves a preventable loss after crash

Posted at 5:38 PM, Feb 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-19 20:38:56-05

TUCSON, Ariz. — Irenio Parra-Neriz was more than a father to Damian Armenta. He was like a superhero.

“He was more than a dad to me. He was more than a father. He was my first best friend, he was the first person that trusted me and believed me. He taught me to ride my bike and taught me how to drive.”

Armenta says his father emigrated from Mexico for a better life.

“My father always wanted to work harder and harder to provide something better.”

He provided for his wife, several adopted children, and other family members with a small business he ran out of his kitchen and truck.

“Selling burritos, tamales, selling sodas he'd work from one side of Tucson to the other side just to provide for all of us,” said niece Maria Victoria Portillo.

Last week the 63 year old man was killed on the way to work. Police say someone ran a red light and crashed into him at a high rate of speed at the intersection of 1-10 Frontage Road and West 29th street.

His wife Berta Parra says the loss cannot be measured.

“He was everything to me. My husband, my companion, my pillar, he was everything, everything to me,” she said through a translator.
His son says it all could have been avoided.

“The way his life was tragically taken away in a way that was 100 percent preventable if we obey our laws and if we obey one very simple law which is stopping at a red light.”

The Tucson police department says no charges have been filed, but the case is open and investigations can take months. Armenta says his family wants justice, but he learned from his father how to keep pressing on against hard times.

“He taught me to stay strong and the most important thing that I tell my mother who is now a widow, is that he taught me to take care of her and she will be taken care of because that was the main reason I think for his life was to take care of my mother.”

Police say they will not release the name of the red-light runner until charges are filed. He was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The family has a gofundme page to help pay for funeral expenses. Click here to donate.