RIVERSIDE, Calif. (FOX 11) - Mercedes Alba remembered her good friend and fellow church member who friends identified as Mario Davila.
“He was always helping everybody and just whatever we needed. He said, 'I have it, I can donate it, I’ll bring,” Alba said.
Davila was killed in a fiery crash on the 605 Freeway Tuesday night near Whittier. Inside the car were his wife and son, who also died.
“We hope and we pray to God that when the fire went up he was already in heaven with his family,” Alba said.
On Wednesday night, those who knew the Davila family gathered at Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine in Riverside to pray.
Church members said the family was very involved in their community and at the church where the father served as a lector.
“He was always prepared to serve the community. He always had a very good attitude,” fellow church member, Jorge Pena, said.
Davila’s teenage son, who church members identified as Oscar, sang in the choir.
“Not a lot of kids would come and join the choir with a bunch of old folks like we are, but he did and he enjoyed it,” choir member, Gary Woods, said. “He made it better for everybody.”
Friends of the family said they were heading to the airport from Riverside when their sedan was hit. Witnesses said they saw a speeding Camaro crash into them.
The driver of that vehicle was an off-duty LAPD officer.
“My heart goes out to the victims an the families and I can't tell you how angry and disappointed I am that a LA police officer would disregard the law and cause an accident with such awful, awful consequences,” Chief Charlie Beck, Los Angeles Police Department, said in a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
The officer has been identified as 26-year-old Edgar Omar Verduzco, who worked a desk job at Central Division.
He’s now booked at Men’s Central Jail on multiple counts of manslaughter and driving under the influence.
“I really hope that they hold him responsible for this because there are three people, great people, that are not going to be around us,” Alba said.
The Riverside Unified School District confirmed the son worked two days a week tutoring at his former high school North High School in the AVID class.
A statement to faculty and students read:
"We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the victims of this tragedy. There will always be an unfillable void left in our hearts when we lose a beloved member of our RUSD team."
Fellow church members said Oscar Davila was also attending UC Riverside and just started his sophomore semester.