Rio Rancho street name changed to honor first-grader killed in crash

A Rio Rancho couple has done something unusual to honor their 6-year-old daughter who was killed in a crash. They petitioned the city to rename a street after her.

“Hey guys, I’m making a video,” said 6-year-old Pearla Casaus in a family video. “Going up there and (inaudible) so here I go, if I mess up I’ll have to go again.”

Pearla is showing her dad what she can do on the playground.

“I always said she was very direct. She would tell you exactly how she felt,” said Pearla’s dad, Paul Casaus.

“So here I am, right here,” said Pearla in the video. “You guys are gonna come over there and see me come down.”

“She was just so much fun to be around,” said Paul Casaus.

Pearla was a first-grade student at Stapleton Elementary. Her parents said she wanted to be a math teacher when she grew up.

“And at home she would pretend to be a teacher and we were her students,” said Pearla’s mom, Cynthia Casaus.

But Pearla will never become a teacher. Days before last Christmas, Pearla, her mom and her brother were in a car crash near Winslow, Arizona.

“The person who hit us was traveling eastbound and he was impaired, and he crossed the median and hit us head on,” said Cynthia Casaus.

Pearla died instantly.

“This is truly heartbreaking because she was going to be somebody someday, and she was going to do great things,” said Paul Casaus.

Her family wants her name to live on, so Pearla’s 11-year-old brother suggested they rename a street that runs next to Stapleton Elementary, from “Horno” to “Pearla.”

“First of all I’d like to say thank you for allowing us to speak tonight,” said Paul Casaus at Rio Rancho’s Planning and Zoning meeting Tuesday night.

Tuesday night, the parents went before the department, sharing their daughter’s story, asking for the street name change.

All committee members approved unanimously.

“This is such an honor. This will be a great memory for the family, for the school, for the city to carry on her name,” said Cynthia Casaus.

“The pain never goes away,” said Paul Casaus. “We wake up with it every morning, we go to bed with it every night, but we think this is an opportunity to always see her name up there, and hopefully provide some peace.”

Now, Pearla’s name will be etched next to her school, her favorite place, forever.

One of the committee members even commented saying Pearla is a much nicer name than the old one.

People who live on what is now Horno Street have no problem with the name change either.

The driver who caused the crash in Arizona is a free man right now. Giovany Bejar was charged with second degree murder, but his charges have been dismissed for the time being.

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

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