As friends and family of CHP Officer Kirk Griess prepare to say their final goodbyes Friday, the family of the second victim of the deadly crash on Interstate 80 in Fairfield last week also are making arrangements for his funeral.
Jaime Buenza Manuel’s family just flew in from the Philippines on Thursday and were trying to cope with the sudden loss. Manuel's daughter, 20-year-old Jamie, is still trying to come to terms with her dad’s death.
"He was a very special person to us, especially our family of three," she said.
Manuel, a caregiver who lived in Vallejo, was hit and killed along with CHP Officer Kirk Griess last Friday by an alleged distracted driver. Sean Walker of Rocklin was arrested and charged with gross vehicular manslaughter in the deaths.
Jamie says her father moved to the U.S. 10 years ago to support his family in the Philippines, working hard as a caregiver to provide for his wife and daughter. He just finished putting Jamie through St. Paul University in Manila.
"If I’m going to expect my dad to die, I expect him to die of illness," she said. "It so happens he dies of a car crash; out of the middle of nowhere this news came he died."
"It’s a timely thing that I finished college before all this happened," she added. "I think my dad finished his mission for me."
Jamie said though she wants the driver to face consequences, she forgives him.
"We will pray for him as much as we pray for the two souls," she said, adding that she knows exactly what Griess’s family is going through and is heartbroken for them as well.
Jamie said she and her mother just arrived in the Bay Area from the Philippines and hope to bring her father's remains back home.
"We love him, we miss him," she said. "Wherever he is, he knows that, and it’s like an angel."
A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to help the family with the funeral costs.