• October 29, 2020

Father missed by entire family - Odessa American: Local News

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Father missed by entire family

Garcia killed while working trucking job

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  • Remembering Raul

    Raul Garcia poses for a photo with his four children.

Posted: Sunday, August 30, 2020 4:00 am

Perla Garcia still remembers the conversation she had with her husband, Raul, back on Aug. 3, 2019.

Perla was back home in El Paso taking a certification class as an emergency medical technician while Raul was out of town with his long-distance truck driving job when the mass shooting in El Paso occurred at a Walmart that left 22 people dead.

“I told him to take care and he told me to take care of yourself more because he thought that I was in more danger than he was,” Perla said.

Fast forward less than a month after that conversation and Perla found herself in a situation that she couldn’t even imagine.

On Aug. 31, Perla was also in class while her four kids were staying at their grandmother’s house in El Paso. She was waiting for Raul to come home and spend the weekend with the family before continuing to California as part of a work trip.

She then got a call from her son asking if she was going to pick them up.

“I told him, no, that Daddy was going to come home to spend the day with them,” Perla said.

She last saw her husband the week before he left on this latest trip but Raul did not make it home that weekend. Garcia, 34, was shot on Interstate 20 by a gunman who went on a shooting rampage that stretched throughout Midland and Odessa that left seven dead and 25 injured. Garcia died at Midland Memorial Hospital 12 hours after he was shot.

At first, however, Perla didn’t realize her husband had been shot after her conversation with her son. She was initially told that Raul had gotten sick on the road and believed that her husband’s diabetes had caused an issue.

It wasn’t until she called Raul’s mother, however, that the situation was completely different.

“I didn’t think my husband was going to be involved in all that,” she said.

It was difficult to say goodbye to someone who she had built a life with over their 15 years of marriage. Both of them grew up in El Paso but went to different high schools in the Sun City. She went to Jefferson while he attended El Paso High. The couple met through mutual friends who were dating each other at the time. Perla sensed an early connection but was hesitant to date him because she was older than he was by three years.

OAT08xx20PerlaGarcia03
Perla and Raul Garcia back from when the couple was dating. Photo Courtesy of Perla Garcia

There was one thing that stood out about Raul, however, for Perla.

“He was always laughing and made me laugh too,” she said. “He was really friendly and that’s just the way he was. He was awesome and we could spend hours talking.”

She added they balanced each other out well because he was more talkative while she was more quiet and reserved.

As their relationship grew, Perla said that she saw the dream in her husband to be a truck driver and the couple started a trucking business at one point.

She said that when he was on the road, his favorite thing was to listen to music. As for what he listened to, it was a little bit of everything from corridos to hip-hop and everything in between.

Even as he was on the road a lot, he would always make time for his family, she said.

“He was a good father and he was hard-working,” she said. “He loved his kids. They were everything to him and he was always trying to give us everything. We just always wanted him with us.”

Everything that Perla had built was taken away after the shooting. After the phone call she had received that he had been shot, she was on her way to Midland to confront a new reality.

“The hardest part was telling my kids that he wasn’t going to come home,” she said. “I don’t want to see them sad. I didn’t want to hurt them and I had to tell them somehow. It wasn’t like I could keep it a secret.”

Since Raul’s death, Perla said that everything has been about her kids and their well-being. She did say that the two older ones went to counseling for a bit but responded to it well. She added that she had not gone to counseling herself but was offered the opportunity to go.

She also finds herself being extra cautious with her kids, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic. When at work, she does find herself texting them more than usual to make sure they’re okay. Even then, however, that leaves her in a difficult situation.

“I can’t stop something like that from happening,” she said. “I can’t keep them from having fun or going out or anything like that. It still worries me when they go with their friends, or go to the park or anything like that.

“At the same time, I can’t keep them from enjoying life. I try not to let it affect them too much.”

Returning to work has also provided another outlet for her to move forward along with the support of her family. She said that she’s always wanted to work as an EMT but admitted that the process hasn’t been easy for her.

“At first, it was hard because I would go to the hospital to get a patient and I would think about how this person could make it and my husband couldn’t,” she said. “It affected me a little bit but as time went on, I had accepted it but it still hurts.

“I wish that patient that I’m taking back home and the patient that recovered; I wish it could have been my husband.”