Avon woman, her mother die in New Mexico wreck
Alma Gutierrez, 35, who was a department manager at the Avon Wal-Mart, and her mother, Silva Cabrera, 55, both died when the Chevy Tahoe Gutierrez was driving rolled over on Interstate 25 in southern New Mexico, authorities say.
“She was a very good friend,” co-worker Idali Hernandez says. “She was the type of person who always worries about others. She would always go out of her way to help.”
Gutierrez’s 5-year-old daughter, America, was seriously injured in the crash and is still being treated in a New Mexico hospital. The girl’s father, who also lives in the valley, has been staying with her.
Gutierrez’s son, 13-year old Efrin, suffered a broken leg.
“Alma would spend a lot of time with her daughter,” Hernandez says. “Her dream was for her daughter to be an Olympic gymnast.”
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Gutierrez, who lived in the Eaglebend Apartments in Avon, managed the cosmetics department at Wal-Mart. She had worked at the store for about two and a half years. Assistant Store Manager Heidi Johnson says Gutierrez was dedicated to her job.
“She was a very important figure in the store,” Johnson says. “She had a great sense of urgency and was somebody who really cared about her job.”
Gutierrez made sure her corner of the store was always in tip-top shape, Johnson says.
“She was always at work,” Johnson says. “She took ownership of her department. She really cared about how it looked.
“When we got a visit from the district manager, she’d stay overnight to make sure everything looked perfect,” she says.
Gutierrez was well-liked at the busy store, Johnson says.
“She was a very outgoing person. She was always smiling, always laughing, always joking,” Johnson says. “She was very close with a lot of people who worked here.”
Details of the crash are sketchy but Gutierrez’s Chevy Tahoe was the only car involved. The truck apparently swerved off the side of I-25 around 8 a.m. Aug. 16, then rolled over several times, Avon Police Officer Gus Pernetz says.
Investigators in New Mexico found only a single skid-mark, Pernetz says.
Gutierrez and her mother died at the scene, Pernetz says.
Gutierrez had left Avon the previous afternoon and had likely driven all night, Pernetz says.
Hernandez says Gutierrez was a gymnast in Mexico, as well as a motorcycle enthusiast. Gutierrez had been looking forward to buying the Chevy Tahoe and had only purchased it a few month’s before the crash, Hernandez says.
“She would do anything for you,” Hernandez says.
Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.