Three of the four people who died in a horrific wreck south of Decatur Saturday were not from Wise County.
But the family had local ties.
Several area truck drivers and others in related businesses knew Juan Jose Rios, 31, of Quanah.
“That guy would give you the shirt off his back,” said Chris Fletcher of Slidell. “Good, good people.”
According to Fletcher, Rios and his 4-year-old daughter, Taylee, his mother, Sherry “Terry” Ann Rios, and the mother of his daughter, Amy Dee Culwell, had taken a three-day trip to Fort Worth.
The family visited the zoo and other places in the Metroplex before heading home Saturday.
They never made it.
The sports utility vehicle in which the family was traveling was struck head-on by a driver going the wrong way on U.S. 81/287 south of Decatur.
That driver, Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Terri Johnson, died along with Rios, his mother and Culwell.
Taylee was flown from the accident scene to Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Fletcher said. “It’s a bad, bad deal.”
Rios worked for Sparkman Transportation Services, a trucking company and body shop.
In addition to doing business with several local truck drivers, he collaborated with them for charitable events.
That selflessness and generosity are what best characterized the man Fletcher has known for more than a dozen years. He considers him a good friend.
“I hadn’t seen Juan in years. We talked off and on, but when you’ve got a good friend, you know it,” Fletcher said. “And I knew I had a good friend in him. He was always willing to help … He has a history with this county.”
Through the years, Fletcher and a group of friends have planned truck show fundraisers for people in need in the community.
Every time they reached out to Rios and his boss, David Sparkman, they were willing to help.
“When we did the truck show for Jackie Murphree in 2008, [Rios] showed up before daylight and gave a generous donation,” Fletcher said. “They really helped somebody down here out. That’s how they were with everything. He didn’t know Jackie from Adam, but he wanted to help. And he did.
“Juan helps everybody. Let’s help him.”
While Fletcher intends to plan some kind of fundraiser, for the time being he asks for prayers for the family, especially Taylee and Juan Rios Sr.
“Juan is an only child,” he said. “Juan Rios Sr. lost his wife and son. The little girl lost her mom and dad and a grandmother.
“I worry about that little girl,” he continued. “She wants her mom and dad. Hell, as old as I am, if something goes wrong, I want my mom and dad. It’s just heartbreaking.”
But as difficult as it is to grasp the reality, Fletcher is confident people will rally to help Rios’ surviving family members.
“I can’t believe he’s gone; it’s unreal,” he said. “But I know it will all work out. They’ve got good friends. And I believe that all the people that Juan helped out will now help him and his family.”
Services for Juan Rios, Sherry Rios and Amy Culwell are pending at Smith Funeral Home in Quanah.