A Phoenix family has met the good Samaritans who helped watch over their loved ones after a fatal crash on I-10.
Troopers say Marisela Noriega died early Saturday when she pulled up to a car stopped in one of the lanes near 67th Avenue and another driver rear-ended her.
Court records say the first driver, Paul Portillo, claimed he ran out of gas before running away from the scene. Investigators say he was drunk when he was located and arrested. The driver that hit Noriega, Jose Sapata, allegedly ran from the scene because he had a suspended drivers license, according to court records.
“She loved her kids, she would do anything for her kids,” said Leticia Robles, Noriega’s sister. “I would have made sure the kids were fine. I would have lain on that pavement with her holding her hand until they pried me off of her.”
On Monday, Noriega’s family came face-to-face with the bystanders who were on-scene when their sister took her last breath.
One of them was Chase Smith, an Army combat veteran and former EMT who pulled Noriega’s 11-month-old and one-year-old daughters from the wreckage.
“There was no trunk, there was not a back seat,” says Smith. “Everything was crushed and bent to the front section of the car and the two girls were upside down twisted sideways in their car seats.”
Noriega’s 5-year-old son had been thrown from the vehicle. All three children survived.
Soon after Smith arrived at the family home, Noriega’s family received another visitor. Kendra Lickliter is a social worker who was heading home Saturday when she arrived at the scene.
“I just stopped my car and I was calling 911 and I heard people in her car trying to get out,” said Lickliter. “That’s when I was handed one of the kids and I just took care of her.”
A third bystander pulled over to comfort the children. Shyla Mountain met with Noriega’s family early Monday. The hairdresser was on her way home when she saw the accident happen. Mountain says she was happy to be in the right place at the right time.
Robles shared a message of gratitude for the three strangers she calls heroes.
“I know a lot of people did keep driving and just pulled out their phones and cameras,” says Robles. “You guys helped save lives.”
The Noriega family is seeking assistance with funeral expenses if you wish to help.
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