Family identifies fatal wrong-way crash victim as loving father of six


SAN DIEGO — The family of the man killed on Wednesday in a wrong-way freeway crash has identified him as a 57-year-old Los Angeles resident and loving father of six.

The crash happened shortly before noon on southbound Interstate 805 near Camino De La Plaza, which is the last U.S. exit on the roadway.

According to his family, Abel Bermudez Griego was traveling southbound to Ensenada to see his mother and pick up his daughter for a weekend trip, when a Audi sedan collided head-on with his Honda van. He was later pronounced dead.

“This just flipped my family’s world upside down and right now we still can’t believe it,” Jorge Benitez, the victim’s son said. “He was just a great guy, I’m going to miss him, everybody loved him.”

Benitez said his dad lived in Los Angeles County in the City of La Puente, where Griego worked as a union interior construction worker.

“My dad, great guy, everybody loved him, looked out for everybody, would give you the shirt off his back, everybody loved him,” Benitez said. “My dad was great, he was the greatest dad that God had blessed me with.”

Following the crash, California Highway Patrol officials came to believe the driver of the Audi sedan was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash.

The driver, identified as 29-year-old Fernando Goneortiz, was arrested on suspicion of felony DUI and vehicular manslaughter, according to CHP. He is currently in the hospital with major, but not life-threatening injuries.

“When I heard it was due to negligence like that I was, I was angry, angry and rage,” Benitez said. “I’m just hoping my dad gets his justice, whatever the law could reach.”

Benitez said his father has six children ages 10 to 40, including some stepchildren that he raised as his own. He said his dad was the sole provider for his mother and youngest sister, adding “obviously I’m going to take care of them.”

A GoFundMe has been set up to help with the family’s expenses in the wake of Griego’s passing, which can be found here.

A Sig Alert was issued due to Wednesday’s crash as crews shutdown multiple lanes of southbound I-805 for several hours.

The incident remains under investigation by law enforcement.

After the crash, CHP Sgt. Hope Maxon encouraged drivers to be aware there is another option to turn back into the U.S.

“If you have missed the last U.S. exit here on the freeway, you can continue off to the left all the way down and there is a sign there that says U-turn back into U.S.A.,” Maxson said.

CHP also wants drivers to be aware of some ways to help protect yourself against wrong-way drivers. 

“The safer place to be is normally the middle lanes because it tends to be that wrong-way drivers stick to the fast lane or the slow lane or the shoulders,” Maxson said. “The best thing to do is drive at a safe speed and keep a high visual horizon, looking as far down the freeway as you can.”


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