Former Marine, Katrina evacuee dies in crash
Tragic end to young "positive" life
By Felisa Cardona
Denver Post Staff Writer
Article Last Updated:

Lisa Swisher left New Orleans just before Hurricane Katrina hit and survived a four-year tour of duty in the Marines.

But she was killed in Aurora early Saturday, returning home from the National Western Stock Show, when a wrong-way driver hit her car on Interstate 225.

The 22-year-old was planning to pursue a criminal-justice degree, her father, Rodney Swisher, said Sunday.

Lisa Swisher was stationed in New Orleans for two years and left just before Hurricane Katrina hit. She was sent to Okinawa, Japan, where she completed her tour, her father said.

She started attending college classes Tuesday.

"She was outgoing, fun and special," said her stepmother, Roxana Swisher. "She always made the negative come out into a positive. She was just a delight to be around."

The night of the crash, Swisher joined a friend at the stock show, then headed to her mother's home in Aurora, her father said.

She was alone in her blue Jeep when a wrong-way driver, 24-year-old Luis Javier Gomez of Aurora, crashed into her about 2 a.m., police said.

Gomez was driving northbound in the southbound lanes of I-225 just north of East Sixth Avenue when he hit Swisher's car, according to an Aurora police news release.

Her father said other drivers managed to avoid Gomez's car, but Swisher was unable to get out of the way in time.

"A truck driver in the northbound lanes had paced him at 55 to 60 mph and watched him avoid several vehicles before he got to Lisa," Rodney Swisher said.

Gomez also was killed in the crash. His family could not be reached for comment Sunday.

Police were continuing to investigate the accident Sunday.

Staff writer Felisa Cardona can be reached at 303-954-1219 or