Special to the Sun
Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012 | 8:12 p.m.
Two years ago, Gerber Ayala-Tomasino Jr. promised his family in El Salvador that once in America, he would work to support them until he died. That support would come to a tragic end on Sept. 13 while he sat waiting for a bus to take him to his job at a local recycling company.
That's the day Gary Hosey Jr. lost control of his Chevrolet Monte Carlo and smashed into the bus stop near Spring Mountain Road and Decatur Boulevard as the workday was beginning. Four people were killed, including Ayala-Tomasino, 24.Also killed were Margoth Gonzalez, 65, and Hyon Cooley, 47, and Johnni Garner, 49.
Ayala-Tomasino "made them a promise to take care of (his family) to the last day,” said his stepsister Jessica Amaya. “His last day was going to work, and he didn’t do anything wrong but go to work, and he just passed away like that.”
Ayala-Tomasino spent his two years in America trying to make a better life for himself, his mother, sister, niece and nephew in El Salvador, and anyone else he knew. He was learning English and working five days a week earning $7.25 per hour.
Whatever money he earned, he used to pay his lawyer, who was helping Ayala-Tomasino get his citizenship papers, and to send a portion to El Salvador to support his family. Amaya said her stepbrother refused handouts — even something as simple as a ride to and from work. He preferred the bus.
“A couple (of) times … he would tell me it was raining, it was cold and he didn’t have anyone to pick him up,” Amaya said. “I would get mad, but he didn’t want to bother anyone, he wanted to be self sufficient.”
There was another side to Ayala-Tomasino, one that makes Amaya laugh and well with tears at the same time. Ayala-Tomasino made friends everywhere he went. Amaya said he once got her tickets to see the Blue Man Group for free, just because he made friends with someone associated with the show.
Amay remembers Ayala-Tomasino always seemed to come home with something for someone. He often gave perfume to his stepmother, Elda Ayala, and once gave his stepnephew figurines from the movie "Toy Story." They're the boy's favorites.
“It didn’t matter how sad he was, he was always smiling and joking around,” Ayala said. “He worked very hard for his family and country.”
Ayala-Tomasino also loved to dance. Clubs, parties -- he danced anywhere. His stepmother, Edna Ayala, remembers meeting one of Ayala-Tomasino's co-workers in the grocery store. He asked how Ayala-Tomasino had been doing and then he said, “He’s a gooood dancer,” Ayala recalled with a laugh. Dancing was the last thing Amaya said they talked about before his death.
“We were talking on Facebook two days before, and he was just telling me how excited he was for the weekend because he was going to go dancing,” Amaya said. “He was joking around with me saying, ‘God, you had to be pregnant, now you can’t go out with me.’”
At 6:25 a.m. Thursday, police reports say, Hosey's vehicle plowed in the bus stop, killing four and injuring more. Hosey was booked into the Clark County Detention Center on four counts of felony driving under the influence causing death.
Ayala-Tomasino’s family is in disbelief. They plan to send his body back to El Salvador for his mother and family, no matter the cost.
“I can’t imagine getting a phone call telling me, 'Your brother is dead,' and I can’t see him,” Amaya said. “One stupid mistake, one selfish decision to drink and drive affected everyone else.”
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- Metro says driver in bus stop fatal is being transferred to jail (9-14-2012)
- Day after deadly crash, bus riders wonder about missing passengers (9-14-2012)
- Police ID driver in bus-stop crash that killed 4 (9-13-2012)
- After agonizing wait at bus stop crash site, daughter learns of mom’s death (9-13-2012)
- Riders worry for their safety at Las Vegas bus stops (9-13-2012)
- A sad litany of accidents at bus stops (9-13-2012)