KRQE News 13 viewers rally to help family hit by thief


SOCORRO, N.M. (KRQE) – When a thief struck a little boy’s grave, KRQE News 13 viewers responded in a big way. From phone calls to emails, here in New Mexico and even out of state, they wanted to help the family and replace what was stolen.

“It’s devastating,” Luana Santomenna said Tuesday. “There’s not even words you can find to describe the heartbreak you feel.”

That heartbreak resonated with a lot of people.

On Tuesday, KRQE News 13 shared the story of Nico Chavez who died from the flu when he was just five years old.

“He liked his night lights,” Santomenna said.

So when he was buried at the San Acacia Cemetery near Socorro, lights went up near his headstone. On Monday, the family noticed someone had stolen the solar panel that powered them.

“I don’t think they realize the amount of hurt that it caused the family,” family friend Lonnie Gonzales said.

Then, total strangers stepped in to heal that pain.

After the story aired, KRQE News 13 got a lot of feedback from viewers in New Mexico and even Colorado. They wanted to help the family out. A woman from Albuquerque donated a brand new solar panel with all the necessary hardware. KRQE News 13 surprised the family with it Wednesday.

“Thank you! Thank you! I’m speechless,” Santomenna said when she saw the donation at her office in Socorro.

A company in Socorro had also called and wanted to donate a panel and install it. VFW Post 1389 in Elephant Butte said it would cover the cost of a new panel, too. Viewers also asked how they could help, offering up cash donations and new panels.

“He was a very kind-hearted little boy,” Santomenna said, remembering Nico. “Anyone who knew him knew that. He’s smiling down and he’s very grateful, I know.”

“There are good people out there still. It takes all the horrible away. Thank you. May God bless you and thank you very much. You made my little boy happy.”

Thanks to an anonymous donor, Nico’s grave won’t be dark much longer.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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