Survivor remembers tragic New Year's Day crash


It was one a story that touched many people because two people's lives ended just as the New Year began. Many neighbors of the Mission District were shocked and prayed for the driver of the car that was hit.

Emmanuel Garcia, 19, spent 29 days in the hospital after the crash. Nine surgeries later, Garcia is walking again. He invited ABC7 News to talk about the accident and what little he remembers. He recalls waking up in the hospital not knowing where he was.

On New Year's Day, Garcia was driving his aunt home after the family had celebrated. It was just before 8 a.m. At that same time, investigators say, the driver of a black Chevy was trying to get away from police and ran through the intersection of South Van Ness and 21st Street, broadsiding Garcia's car.

The impact was so great that Garcia's aunt, Sylvia Tun, died. The car spun out of control and also hit a pedestrian, 26-year-old Francisco Gutierrez. He also died.

Garcia says he remembers his aunt's laughter just moments before the crash. Those were happy moments, full of laughter. His mother lost a sister, who is now buried in their native Guatemala.

The family says they have forgiven the driver of that car. Police say they were looking for 20-year-old David Morales after he shot at three people earlier that morning at the Valencia Garden apartments a few blocks from the accident. He's in jail. His trial begins in a few months.

"We know those families will never be the same," district attorney's office spokesperson Alex Bastian said. "Mr. Morales is facing two counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder and various firearm and gang enhancement allegations."

And then there are those lucky to be alive. Surveillance video taken from inside the corner store shows the white Toyota slamming into the building. An employee barely missed being hit.

"Thirty seconds later one of the doors slammed against that, after the car hit, so he was very lucky that day," store owner Eyad Ibrahim said.

Garcia also counts himself fortunate to be here. He says he is going to church Wednesday to thank god that he is still alive.

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