No bond for man accused of fatal DUI crash in construction zone
MERRILLVILLE — Until night fell on Saturday, Ana Tafoya still expected her 58-year-old father Jose to walk through the door.
“The little girl inside me thought he would come home,” Tafoya said. “I don’t remember when I fell asleep, but I woke up holding his shirt.”
Jose Tafoya was killed early Saturday morning when a drunken driver crashed into the construction site where he was working on the south side of Chicago. A 19-year-old Chicago man — Erick A. Lopez — has been charged with three counts of reckless homicide and aggravated driving under the influence in the crash, which also injured three other people. Lopez had a blood-alcohol level of 0.23 percent — almost three times the legal limit — according to police.
Cars packed the driveway and front lawn of Jose Tafoya’s Merrillville home on Sunday afternoon as family members and friends gathered to remember the warm, affectionate man, who was a doting father and grandfather.
“As a family, it’s brought out the best in us,” Ana Tafoya said. “Even his co-workers and friends keep calling and they want to do what they can. It can be overwhelming at times, and I have to go in my room and cry to let it out.”
Jose was married for 32 years to his wife Maria, and he was the father of three sons and one daughter. He had two grandsons and another grandchild on the way.
“He was a great man and a great father,” Ana Tafoya said. “He was a jokester and really friendly. We used to joke that we couldn’t walk a block without him becoming friendly with everyone he met. At first it was embarrassing, then it became part of who he was.”
The last time she spoke to her dad he was talking about his grandsons.
“Just give them to me and I’ll retire,” he told her on Friday as he walked out the door.
Jose Tafoya was born in San Gregoria, Mexico, which is located in the western state of Michoacán. He emigrated to the United States when he was 16 or 17, but he went back to marry and visited family including his mother, who still lives in Guanajuato, Mexico.
“He had a rough childhood,” Ana Tafoya said. “His dad died when he was 8 and he was working from that point. He never let us forget our roots.”
The family hasn’t firmed up funeral arrangements yet, but he will be laid to rest in Guanajuato as per his wishes, Ana Tafoya said.
“He loved to go back and forth, and he always said he would head back to Mexico when he retired,” she said.
Sun-Times Media contributed to this report