Funeral held for victim of SUV crash
By Bethania Palma, Staff Writer
San Gabriel Valley Tribune

LA PUENTE — Family and friends packed into St. Joseph Church Friday for the funeral of Joshua Anthony Ruiz, a La Puente High School senior who died Jan. 13 in car crash.

Six Marines served as pall bearers, escorting the white-draped casket into the Catholic church, past pictures of Ruiz with a broad smile. People filled pews to near capacity.

Ruiz, 17, had signed up to join the U.S. Marine Corps, but never got the chance to wear the uniform, said the Rev. Matthew Cumberland.

"We're all familiar with the expression that the Marines are looking for a few good men,' " Cumberland said. "I believe that in Joshua Ruiz, they found one."

Ruiz and Ivan Enriquez, 16, a La Puente High sophomore, were killed when the vehicle they were riding in rolled several times, ejecting them onto the street.

Ruiz, Enriquez and five other young men from La Puente piled into a 2002 Ford Explorer and were on their way to a grocery store to get food for a friend's gathering, police said. The driver, Heberto Gonzalez, 19, of La Puente, sped around another vehicle in the left lane and veered into a cement center divider, authorities.

Enriquez was pronounced dead at the scene in Mira Loma. Ruiz died the next day.

Authorities have said Gonzalez will be arrested on manslaughter charges.

Cumberland reminded grieving loved ones that the death of such a young person should remind everyone to re-examine the meaning of their own lives.

"Josh's death reminds us how precious life is, how fragile the human body is," he said. "If my life is precious, so is everyone else's. We should treat everyone with the respect that fellow humans deserve. This is something that we should take from this."

Cumberland also reminded those in attendance to pray for Enriquez.

Arrangements for his funeral are still being made.

Angela Rivera, 17, who survived the same accident, stood outside the church at the end of the service.

She wore a T-shirt emblazoned with Ruiz's face, a cast on her left arm and a bandage on her forehead. Friends hugged her as she sobbed.

Ruiz's loved ones remembered him as a friendly boy with a good sense of humor and a deep religious faith.

"He was loyal," said Alyssia Viramontes, 15, a friend. "Whenever you needed him, he was always there. He was the kind of person you wanted to be around because he would just make you laugh."

Mona Pacho, 75, director of religious education at St. Joseph parish, said Ruiz came to confirmation classes with his brother, Daniel, even though he had been confirmed a year ago.

"He came every Monday to help," Pacho said. "He told me, I'm hungry for the Lord.' He was a beautiful, beautiful, loving young man."

Pacho said Ruiz would often joke with her that he was also coming to class to get a hug and some cookies.

"Monday's going to be tough," she said, her voice breaking.

Ruiz is survived by his parents, John Jr. and Ana; four siblings, Analesia, Daniel, Aliana and Analea Ruiz; and grandparents, John Ruiz Sr. and Vera Benavides.

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