Family mourns death of Fabens teacher killed in Tornillo crash

El Paso News

One local family is mourning this Easter Sunday after a Fabens High School teacher was killed in a Tornillo crash on Friday.

As KTSM previously reported, the three-vehicle crash happened at about 2 p.m. Friday on the 18800 block of TX HWY 20 (Alameda).

Heriberto ‘Eddie’ Santillana, 51, was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital shortly thereafter.

Santillana was not only a beloved auto teacher, but also a husband and father to three sons.

His wife, Veronica, told KTSM the family is shaken up but staying strong to share his story.

The family says the patriarch was the hardest working person they knew who dedicated his life to his students.

“He was always someone to look up to, he never did wrong,” his son Isaac Santillana said.

They say he would always tell stories of his students, and it means so much to see them come together in support.

“The impact that he had on each of his students and the community…he didn’t just impact us,” Veronica Santillana told KTSM in Spanish. “What he tremendously impacted was his students and that’s been the strongest impact to me.”

The Santillana family says they’d like his students to know that they all appreciate their support during this tragic time.

“He was just a great example to everyone to the community in general, a lot of the students have been saying a lot of encouraging messages to us and whatnot and my dad was just a great impact,” his son Uriel Santillana said.

His wife Veronica described the person her husband was. She said they were together for more than 20 years and he was always a serious but funny man who believed in his faith of God. 

Veronica said throughout his lifetime, he left her with infinite memories.

“My heart is full of memories but I have one memory marked in my heart he had a wish of us all going to a Cowboys game and when we went, the child in him came out, with laughs and jokes, for such a serious man, he let the child in him come out that day, he was happy,” Veronica said.

She said he left the family with the gift of love and his dedication to them and his students. When asked what she’ll miss the most she said:

“Definitely everything…everything I can’t say one thing without leaving something out. Everything. He was a complete man,” Veronica said.

His son Nathan Santillana said his father was a hardworking man whose passion and sense of humor will be missed by many. 

“It’s just you know the shoes he left for us to fill are very big and what are we going to miss about my dad is everything man,” Nathan said.

Funeral services are currently being planned. A balloon release will be held at Fabens High School on Tuesday in Santillana’s honor.

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