Victims’ families seek help
September 25, 2009
Fund-raisers are planned this weekend to help the families of two people who died Sept. 19 in a traffic crash on U.S. 40.
Heber resident Yessica Hunda, 18, dropped her toddler off at day care minutes before the car she was driving went into oncoming traffic and was struck by a Jeep Grand Cherokee at about 6 a.m. Heber resident Roujine Ballao, 21, who was engaged to be married to Hunda, was a passenger in the Chevrolet Cavalier at the time of crash.
Hunda, who was from Mexico, was about seven months pregnant. The crash killed her, Ballao and her unborn child. Relatives of Hunda are now raising her toddler, Xadrian.
The couple was on their way to work at Park City Bread and Bagel in Pinebrook when the crash occurred. Ballao, who is from the Philippines, was the store’s general manager.
"I’ve seen so many people actually break down and start crying this past week. They had no idea. They see a sign on the door or see the donation box set up and they break down," said Jeremy Ranch resident Adam Fehr, who owns the bakery. "I can’t tell you the impact [Ballao] had on everybody. There are so many regulars who are there every single day, who were used to seeing him every single day. He knew every person’s order, he knew their name and he knew everything about them."
Fehr said all the proceeds the store collects Sunday will help pay for funerals and support for Xadrian, who is about three years old.
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A charity car wash Saturday at noon at Quarry Village in Pinebrook will also raise money for the families, Fehr said.
"The families are taking it pretty hard. They’re obviously not doing well because it was unexpected and they’re both heavily involved in church," Fehr said. "They were both always smiling and just enjoying everything they did."
The crash that killed the couple happened on eastbound U.S. 40. Witnesses said Hunda was traveling westbound on the highway when she began drifting to the left. After overcorrecting, the car went sideways through the median into the eastbound lanes where it was struck by the Jeep.
Investigators said they are unsure why Hunda lost control of the car. The couple died at the scene.
Meanwhile, Fehr said family members cannot afford to pay for the couple’s funeral, which was scheduled Friday morning in Heber.
Donations for the families are being collected at businesses in the Park City area. Money can also be deposited into the Roujine Ballao and Yessica Hunda Memorial Trust at any Chase bank.
Fehr said Ballao and Hunda met while working at Wendy’s.
"She was pregnant and one night she went into labor and Roujine, who was just a co-worker at the time, took her to the hospital," Fehr said.
But the nurses confused Ballao for the baby’s father who was no longer in Hunda’s life, he said.
"They had him in the delivery room and they handed him the baby. They actually started dating right after that," Fehr said. "He was around to help take care of her and they have raised the baby together ever since."
Fehr said he hopes fund-raisers this weekend help put faces to the carnage the accident left behind.
"Everybody saw how horrific it was, but nobody knew who it was," Fehr said. "Even if you don’t know either one of them, even if you just saw them occasionally at the shop, you could tell there was something special about them."
The car wash to benefit the families is scheduled to begin at noon in the parking lot at Quarry Village at 3156 Quarry Road in Pinebrook. Park City Bread and Bagel is located at 3126 Quarry Road.