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Family remembers ‘happy girl’ killed by truck

Scott N. Miller
Preston Utley/Vail DailyCandles burn around a photo of Maria Estrada, killed Tuesday by a truck as she walked to work in Avon.
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AVON – Laughter followed Maria Estrada.”She was always telling us jokes,” said her brother, Alfonso junior as his sister, Mayela translated. “She could remember all of them.”Laughter is in short supply in the Eaglebend apartment shared by Maria, Mayela and brother Ernesto. Maria, 23, was killed Monday as she walked to work at the McDonald’s in the Avon Wal-Mart. She was hit as she walked when a NAPA auto parts delivery pickup, driven by Colleen Moore of Gypsum, veered out of control. Shock still ran deep Thursday, with Mayela, Ernesto, Alfonso junior and parents Alfonso and Maria – just in from Mexico – gathered in the apartment. Friends brought grocery store food trays. Mayela’s daughter Emily, who’s not quite 2, was the source of smiles in the living room, darting from uncles to mom, then running toward her grandfather with her eyes closed.”It’s good to have her here,” Mayela said. Maria was good with her niece. Maria was good with the rest of her family, too.”She was a girl that had high family values,” Alfonso said as Mayela translated. “She always wanted to be around the family.”

It was hard to let Maria go north after she’d graduated from college in Mexico in December, Alfonso said. “But we knew how good a person she was, and she needed to make her own decisions, her own life,” he said. Maria was planning to return to Mexico to attend graduate school and continue her studies in business communications, probably in the fall. But for a few months, she came to the United States to work, to earn a little money, and to have a little fun. She was also taking English classes, first at Avon Elementary School, then at Colorado Mountain College.”They transferred her because she was such a good student,” Mayela said. The Estrada siblings went through most of the winter at the apartment in Avon. “It was pretty good,” Mayela said. “We had a lot of fun. She was helping with the baby, working. It was just good.”Maria was having fun, most of the time, although she was haunted by the death last year of her boyfriend of five years. He, too, died in an auto accident. “She could be depressed,” Mayela said. “But she was determined to make a new life. She wanted to heal.”She seemed to be doing well. Until Monday morning.As soon as Alfonso and Maria heard the news, they got on the first plane they could. They made it from their home near Zacatecas, in central Mexico, to Avon by late Tuesday afternoon.”It was the hardest flight I’ve ever been on,” Alfonso said. “I wanted to get here as soon as I could. I knew she was dead, but I wanted to see her one more time.”The flight home will be hard, too. After today’s funeral, Alfonso and Maria are flying home with Maria’s body, where two more sisters and another funeral await.Now, the Estradas are left with memories of a daughter and sister.”She was always a happy girl,” Maria said through Mayela. “We were really close, the best of friends. I’ll always remember her and her smile.”Maria’s brother Alfonso remembers his sister as “very kind.”Through a conversation with the family, Ernesto stayed silent, keeping his memories to himself.”She was here such a short time,” Mayela said. “But she loved what she was doing.”Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14624, or smiller@vaildaily.com.Vail Daily, Vail Colorado


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