Craig teenager dies in car crash | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig teenager dies in car crash

Vallarta's Restaurant mourns loss of family member

Erin Fenner

— Nineth Pereyra's joy was immediately apparent and contagious.

"If I was mad — for whatever reason — she would, little by little, do something and bring a laugh out of me. She was always there for people," said her older sister Aidee Pereyra, 19. Nineth was "always giving positive feedback. Whenever someone was sad she would always be the one to cheer them up."

Nineth, 15, was a cousin of the Vallarta's Restaurant owners and staff. Her abrupt death July 2 in a car crash in Rock Springs, Wyoming, shook her family and Craig.

Nineth; her mother, Carmen Gomez; her aunt, Margo Gomez; and three elementary-aged cousins were in the van when the tire blew off the rim. The vehicle lost control and went off the road. Nineth died instantly and her mother was critically wounded, but everyone else made it out of the crash relatively intact, Aidee Pereyra said.

Carmen Gomez is still in St. Mary's in Grand Junction. Doctors told the family that she never would walk again because of a spinal injury, said Nineth's cousin, Marycarmen Nuñez.

Even with this, the family remains hopeful, said Nineth's cousin, Cubas Nuñez, who is also part owner of Vallarta's Restaurant.

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"It's nice to see how her sister and brother are healing from this loss. They're taking a big step in their life," he said.

The healing process has been aided by the support that has come in from family and the community, Marycarmen Nuñez said.

"We're a very united family," she said.

Craig community members jumped at the opportunity to help out the Pereyras and Nuñezes.

Rising Star Youth Training Center hosted a lemonade stand for the family July 3 to raise money for the funeral that took place Wednesday. Her immediate family also launched a fundraiser on a crowdfunding site and surpassed its original $1,500, earning about $2,500.

The next fundraiser will be held by Zumba instructor Becky Smith to help with the family's medical bills. The event will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. July 18 at Marvelous Movements. She's asking for $10 donations to participate in the fundraiser.

"Terrible things happen to really good people," Smith said. "They need the support from all the people they can get, and I want to be part of that."

Robin Schiffbauer, administrator for St. Michael's Community Kitchen, said Vallarta's does more than just regular fundraisers for community members in need.

"Vallarta's actually cooks for the St. Michael's Community Kitchen every first Thursday of the month and have done so for the past few years," she said. "It seems like you can go into Vallarta's many times in the month, and they're doing fundraisers for different things that are needed. They support all of us, and they do it so openheartedly."

Cubas Nuñez said Nineth's effervescent joy will be missed by her family and the community.

"She was a very happy girl. She was full of life, dreams and very special for the family. It was very nice to have her around all the time," Cubas Nuñez said.

Aidee said she will miss the opportunity to see how Nineth grows up.

"I didn't get a chance to really know her the way she deserved," she said. "I wish I would have known what her favorite flower was. Simple things like that, I didn't get to know."

While the loss of her sister is heavy, she's grateful for what the community has done so far.

"I really appreciate what they did and, if I ever can, I will find a way to show my gratitude," she said. "Honestly, I didn't think there were so many people who knew us."

Contact Erin Fenner at 970-875-1794 or efenner@CraigDailyPress.com.