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CRASH LEAVES MOTHER OF THREE BRAIN-DEAD – FAMILY SEEKS HELP OF ANY WITNESSES TO HIT-RUN ACCIDENT

Rocky Mountain News (CO) – Wednesday, July 6, 2005
Author/Byline: Clayton Woullard , Rocky Mountain News
Staff photographer Maria J. Avila contributed to this report
Edition: Final
Section: News
Page: 8A
Road rage may have contributed to a hit-and-run accident early Tuesday that left a mother of three young children brain-dead.

The woman’s family is pleading for the public’s help in finding the drivers involved.

“I’m just trying to look out for her; she always looked after me,” said Melissa Arana of her older sister, Alicia Arana. “I feel it’s up to me to find the persons who did this.”

Jesus Manuel Cruz, 29, was driving a pickup with his common-law wife, Alicia Arana, 26, and her three children at 12:43 a.m. Tuesday when the accident happened.

The truck was northbound on Federal Boulevard when it rear-ended a silver Dodge Intrepid and continued on, according to police.

The driver of the Intrepid chased the pickup and caught up with it at Sheridan Boulevard and Cedar Avenue, police said. Cruz’s brother, Gene Cruz, said his brother told him that the passengers of the Intrepid threw beer bottles at the pickup as the two vehicles raced next to each other. The Intrepid then sideswiped the pickup, sending it into oncoming traffic where it was hit by a Ford Excursion, police said.

Alicia Arana and two of her children were ejected from the vehicle, according to police.

The Excursion and Intrepid fled the scene of the accident. Police said the Excursion, which had been stolen, was later found abandoned.

Melissa Arana and Gene Cruz said Tuesday afternoon that doctors at St. Anthony Central Hospital told them Alicia Arana was clinically brain-dead.

Melissa Arana said her sister’s organs would be donated, as she requested. Family members Tuesday were awaiting the arrival of her sister and father from Mexico before she was taken off life support.

Melissa Arana said the three children, Savannah Cruz, 6, Sierra Cruz, 6, and Jesus Manuel Cruz Jr., 5, were in stable condition at Children’s Hospital.

Melissa Arana said her nieces and nephew were aware of what happened in the accident and were asking questions, but had not been told about their mother. She said her brother-in-law had asked to be the one to tell them.

Alicia Arana and Jesus Cruz have been together for 10 years. Melissa Arana described her sister as a stay-at-home mom devoted solely to her children.

“She was an excellent mom,” Melissa Arana said of her sister. “She didn’t always have money, but she did everything to make sure her kids came before her.”

She also said her sister was a selfless person who would always defend the underdog, a person whose laugh could be heard wherever she went.

“She was always laughing about something,” Melissa Arana said.

Melissa Arana and Gene Cruz said Jesus Cruz admitted he had been drinking at a July 4 party the family had just left before the accident.

Denver police spokesman John White said the accident is under investigation and he could not comment on any involvement alcohol may have had in the incident.

“We’re supporting Manuel,” Melissa Arana said. “He feels really guilty about it, but he’s not entirely at fault. He loves my sister very much.”

Melissa Arana and Gene Cruz urge anyone who witnessed the incident or saw the Intrepid or the Excursion traveling in the area between midnight and 1 a.m. to call Denver police at 720-913-6217.

“You can’t reverse what has happened,” Melissa Arana said. “You can only learn from it.”

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