CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Matthew Garcia is one of the two Ray High School seniors killed in Tuesday’s car crash on Port Avenue, after the two were leaving graduation rehearsal.
“Matt was like a brother to me, basically,” said Isiah Puente, one of Garcia’s best friends. "The first day we met, we clicked instantly; that's just the way we were.”
Puente said Garcia was always in a good mood, and would put other people in a good mood, too.
“There were hardly any days when he was down. He was always so happy with everything. His laugh, his smile, the way he made everything in the room light up, was amazing; I loved it,” he said. “His laugh was so contagious. I keep looking at videos over and over of whenever he would laugh, when we were in band (…) it’s hilarious. I miss it so much.”
Estrellita Salazar is also a close friend to Garcia. She considered him like family.
“He was the most humble person that I ever met,” she said. “We were just really, really close.”
Puente and Salazar are both seniors at Moody High School.
They had their graduation rehearsal before Ray’s, and were continuing with their day when they heard the news of the crash.
Puente was with his Army recruiter; Salazar was back in class.
“It was just really hard. You’re sitting in class, trying to enjoy the last few days of high school, and something so tragic happened,” Salazar said. “The whole room just froze.”
Now, the two prepare for their own graduations Friday, but are finding it hard to celebrate knowing their friend won’t be graduating.
“It’s hard to push through, because you try to be happy and enjoy the last moments like this, but when something so tragic happens, it’s just difficult to push through,” Salazar said.
Both Puente and Salazar wish they could see their friend just one more time.
“If I knew the last time I saw him was at prom, both of us would’ve given him a bigger hug, or a tighter hug,” Puente said.
A local business collected donations for Garcia's family in order to help pay for his funeral expenses.
Beauty Cartel, located at 4701 Ayers St. Suite 607, collected donations for Garcia's funeral expenses on Thursday.
There will also be barbecue benefits that start at 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday for the family. Both events will run until the food sells out.
Saturday, cheeseburger plates will be sold for $10 at Chuy's Tire Shop, located at 3201 Baldwin.
On Sunday, cheeseburger and pulled pork plates will be sold at Pan American Club House, located at 801 Horne Rd.