SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – They were brothers and cousins who hoped their families could soon join them in the American dream.
But it won’t happen for them or their families left behind in Honduras.
In late October, the lives of the three brothers and two cousins ended on Highway 40 near the Jordanelle Dam.
It was a horrific collision. Authorities said Jamie McKenzie was driving drunk and crossed over into oncoming traffic and collided with a pickup carrying the five.
Efrian Cardenas of Salt Lake City was driving the five home after a job in Wyoming. Cardenas owned a small business and the five worked for him. Cardenas died at the scene.
As did all his employees. The brothers were Frankie, Walter and Raul Chacon.
Their cousins, Jose Navarro, and Alan Zuniga also were killed.
Their relatives who live in the same house in Kearns were shocked to learn of their deaths.
“They were all hard workers,” said Serji Naiseth, one of the victim’s cousins. “They didn’t socialize with anyone. They came from Honduras in hopes of bringing their families here, for a better life.”
Their Utah relatives said their children are young and always looked forward to receiving money from their fathers. And they said the men were happiest when they sent the money home.
“They were good people,” said Navarro Hernandez, another cousin to the victims. “They had children and they thought they (children) were special.”
Their parents in Honduras were grief-stricken when a local television station met with them. What made it difficult for them was the unknown.
At first, authorities couldn’t identify the deceased because their bodies were difficult to identify, so families in Honduras and here in Utah had to wait.
“The police was giving us a little bit of information,” said Naiseth. “They thought it was them and then they didn’t exactly know.”
Relatives in Utah said their American dream ended in tragedy and it’s even worse for those they’ve left behind.
“These children are now orphans, without a father,” said Naiseth. “I imagine they are now sickened to know, not only have they lost their dads, but there is no future
Another cousin Hidalia Zuniga Valle, said the bodies of the five men were finally transported to Honduras for burial. Local authorities have not released their names.
Meanwhile, the driver charged with their deaths, Jamie Don Mckenzie was charged with six-counts of automobile homicide and DUI. He remains in the Wasatch County jail where bail was set at $200,000.