Photo courtesy of Kris Baum.
Miguel Gonzalez, the man killed in last Saturday’s fatal collision on the Gerald Desmond Bridge, moved to the U.S. in 2005 from Chile, determined to learn and make a life for himself.
After finding employment in the landscaping department at The Queen Mary, Gonzalez shined as an utterly “likeable” presence at The Queen Mary, greeting everyone with a smile, according to family and friends. He enjoyed working on cars and many hobbies, especially fishing.
“He was a really popular young man,” said Kris Baum, his supervisor and the manager of the The Queen Mary’s engineering department, where Gonzalez eventually transferred.
“It was so pleasant to be around him—he made friends everywhere,” said Gonzalez’s uncle, Jorge Gonzalez. “He was willing to help everybody...He was so full of life.”
Gonzalez, who lived with Jorge in San Pedro, was 30-years-old. He is survived by his mother and father, three brothers, uncle, and two children, a girl and boy who are nearing the ages of five and eight, respectively.
A GoFundMe page has been created to help pay for Gonzalez’ funeral expenses, and provide a lifeline for his children, according to Jorge. As of 4:30PM on August 7, $1,891 of the $5,000 requested on the page has been raised.
On Saturday, August 1, Gonzalez had just dropped his children off at daycare before departing toward Long Beach to help fix someone’s car, said Jorge. On the bridge, his 2010 Nissan Pickup was involved in the three-way collision after 28-year-old Alvin Ray Shaw’s Mercedes drove the wrong way into traffic.
Gonzalez’s pickup became engulfed by flames. Authorities were unable to conclusively identify his remains until last Wednesday due to the burns caused by the fire.
“We didn’t know anything until Sunday afternoon,” said Jorge, when Gonzalez didn’t show up for work at The Queen Mary.
Jorge said himself and Gonzalez’s father had repeatedly called his cell phone, which was not working. After communicating with the mother of Gonzalez’s children and his supervisor, as well as hearing about the accident on the news, Jorge said the family suspected Gonzalez was most likely involved in the collision.
“We put two and two together,” said Gonzalez. “We knew it was him. It was Miguel. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Baum said Gonzalez constantly strove to achieve something more for himself, as evidenced by his earning of a mechanic certification and his steady promotions within the engineering department while at The Queen Mary.
“He was very motivated to better himself and take classes,” said Baum.
But what motivated Gonzalez the most were his two children, Baum and Jorge said.
“Everything was about the children,” said Jorge. He was a constant presence in their lives and they were the highlight of his, said Jorge.
“Now it’s about making sure the children are well,” he said. “That’s all he cared about. We have to do that out of respect for Miguel’s memory.”