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Cause of fatal seawall crash unclear

TEXAS CITY — The last time Sylvia Jaime spoke with her son Irvin Ruiz, he phoned to tell her he was headed to a quinceanera.

“I told him to make sure he called me later,” Jaime said of the phone conversation Saturday night.

That phone call never came.

Ruiz, 18, was killed early Sunday morning when a Ford Mustang packed with teens from Texas City plunged off the seawall near East Beach. Four other teens in the car were injured in the crash that is still being investigated by Galveston police.

A report on the wreck wasn’t finalized Monday but the preliminary investigation leads officers to believe alcohol was not a factor in the crash, Galveston police Lt. Michael Gray said Monday.

Police continue to work on accident reconstruction, Gray said.

Luis Aguirre, 16, of Texas City was critically injured in the accident. Aaron Ceballos, 19, the driver of the car, and 14-year-olds Alexis Williamson and Celeste Posada had nonlife-threatening injuries.

Jaime said she does not know the teens her son was hanging out with Saturday night or that his plans included making a trip to Galveston.

Ruiz, who was in the Texas City school district’s dropout prevention education program, had hopes of joining the U.S. Army and make the military a career, his mother said.

As Jaime and her brothers met with officials at Emken-Linton Funeral Home on Monday, Ruiz’s friends were going door-to-door in the neighborhood with cans in hand taking up donations to help defray the costs associated with the pending funeral.

It’s estimated the services and burial will be about $10,000. Money that Jaime, who works at the Jack in the Box at the corner of 21st Street and Palmer Highway, doesn’t have.

The fast-food restaurant is doing what it can to support Jaime, manager Shi Bolton said.

“We’re already seeing the community coming together,” Bolton said. “(Ruiz) was a pretty good kid. We’re just in shock. He worked hard to take care of his family.”

For a while, Ruiz worked at Jack In The Box, but then took on two jobs, one at Luna’s Restaurant and the other at CiCi’s Pizza, his mother said.

Bolton said customers who wish to donate to help cover funeral costs should ask for her or co-manager Araceli Flores.

The funeral home also will accept donations that will go directly to cover funeral expenses, Emken-Linton funeral director Scott Walker said.

The school district is providing support for Ruiz’s friends and those of the other teens injured in the crash, spokeswoman Melissa Tortorici said.

“We have four counselors available to our high school students on a daily basis,” Tortorici said. “They were able to handle our students’ needs (Monday). All of the counselors are on call should we need additional grief counseling (today) or later this week.

“We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss of life,” Texas City Superintendent Cynthia Lusignolo, said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Irvin’s family and friends. We are hopeful for a full recovery for the other students involved in the accident. We are certainly thinking of them and their families as well.”

Surrounded by family at her house in the Chelsea Addition section of Texas City, Jaime said she’s cried so much the past two days that she is no longer able to cry.

“I feel a very large pain within,” she said.

That pain is mixed with gratitude to the friends, neighbors and Ruiz’s classmates who have come by the house to lend support.

“I am very thankful for offering to help,” she said. “I thank them for all they have done for me and my family.”

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