By Lyda Longa, Daytona Beach News-Journal (Florida)
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Eight days before Christmas, 20-year-old Marissa Garcia lost a part of her life.
Her husband, 23-year-old Francisco Garcia Jr., was killed in a motorcycle accident Friday on South Beach Street as he headed home to South Daytona.
The tragedy, the young woman said Tuesday, was difficult to explain to the couple's two children, Hailey, 3 and Justin, 5.
"I told them their father was an angel who went to heaven," the young mother said.
Officers at the Daytona Beach Police Department who learned of Francisco Garcia's death are trying to give his young widow and her children some semblance of Christmas.
Francisco, an alarm installer for APS Security Systems who was the sole provider for his family, was on his way home from work Friday afternoon so he could take his wife Christmas shopping for their children.
He was killed about 1 p.m. Police reports indicate a car driven by an 81-year-old man pulled into his path. Charges are pending while the case is investigated, police said.
Daytona Beach police recruit Dennis Cowell, who began his law enforcement training with the city in October, heard about the family's plight from the department's victim advocate, Michelle Jabluszewski.
The 22-year-old Cowell, the leader of his 10-member police recruit class, thought he and his classmates should do something to help Garcia and her children.
"He went down the hallways collecting money from officers," Jabluszewski said. "What can I say? It's a really great feeling to see that. This is an agency that really pulls together."
More than $200 was collected for the family Monday and Tuesday. Officers also have brought in toys for Hailey and Justin.
""We're just trying to help out," Cowell said.
Garcia, who said she met and fell in love with Francisco in high school, described her late husband as "such a good provider, such a good husband and such a great dad.
"We were so in love," she said.
She said the gesture by police gives her comfort because her children will have Christmas.
Francisco's aunt, Linda Vallee, has established a trust fund for the young family at the Bank of America.
Anyone interested can donate money by depositing it at any Bank of America branch in care of the Francisco Garcia Family Trust Fund.