ESPAÑOLA, N.M. (KRQE) – A family is asking for help: A descanso they set up for a loved one keeps getting stolen and damaged. The family said the descanso was set up in memory of two women who died when a suspected drunk driver crashed into and killed them as they drove out of Española.
Sara Maul is the stepmother of Justice Gutierrez Cruz, one of the women who died after a suspected driver, high on numerous drugs, crashed into them in June 2020. She said she wants the thefts to stop.
“Well, it’s intentional[ly] hurt[ful]; it’s vindictive for some reason,” explained Sara Maul.
Cruz was driving from Española on Highway 84 with her partner, Felisha Barela to Chama for a birthday getaway. Police said that’s when 48-year-old Cory Johnson veered into the opposite lane and collided head-on with their car, killing them both. The families of the two victims set up a descanso shortly after in their memory, but this April, one was stolen and another was run over.
“It looked like someone had run them over, so we thought maybe an accident had happened,” said Maul.
The families replaced the crosses. They said those crosses cost them about $300 each, and they moved these further away from the road and secured them with cement.
Nearly three weeks later, the new crosses were also gone. Maul said they found a hole where the crosses were and a trail showing they were dragged away.
“It’s really sad that someone had the time, and the energy, to come out here and dig a hole because there’s a lot more things that could be done,” explained Maul.
She said descansos are important places for families to grieve.
“This is our tangible thing where we can come and release the loss. I mean, there’s no filling the void, but this helps a little bit,” said Maul.
The family filed a police report after the second set of crosses was stolen. They’re also offering a reward for any information regarding the stolen descansos.
“I’ll put a million crosses, if I have to, in my lifetime. I won’t stop.”
Johnson is scheduled to go on trial in August on two charges of homicide by vehicle DWI.