Roma, TX Head On Collision Kills Five, May 1996


By Jessica Deleon
The Monitor.

Roma - The five college students grew up together in this small community of 8,000, where most faces are recognized easily.
In school, they did almost everything together - participating in the same activities, going to football games and then graduating from Roma High School in 1992.
After graduation, their bond to Roma continued. The graduating class of 1992, friends and family say, seemed especially close. As close as they were, they already were earning distinctions as individuals.
The five friends reunited Sunday, celebrating their success in college, for the last time. The joyous renewal of their friendship ended that day in a violent automobile accident which no one survived.
Roma is still stunned.
The students were all occupants of a car which was involved in a head-on collision on U.S. Highway 83, police said. A funeral for the driver of the other vehicle, AARON ARRIBALZAGA, 22, will be held today at 10 a.m. at Sedineno Catholic Church in Roma. ARRIBALZAGA was alone in his car.
On Tuesday, the family and friends of the five college students remembered them as a group of friendly, caring people at their wake at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall.
They were:
CYNTHIA LEAL, 21, of Escobares;
EDEN OMAR GUERRA, 22, of Roma;
JOSE MARIA "CHEMITA" IBANEZ, JR., 21, of Falcon Heights;
OSCAR CANTU, II, 22, of Roma;
and MELISSA GUERRA, 22, of Rio Grande City.
At the wake, friends and family streamed in all day to view the students' bodies. The wreath-lined hall was filled with mementos of their lives.
A pair of cowboy boots sat atop the casket of IBANEZ, who this weekend graduated from Texas A & M University, a member of the university's band. MELISSA GUERRA, who was Miss Starr County in 1992, was buried with her crown.

The Monitor McAllen Texas 1996-05-15