CALEXICO — The community mourns the death of a well-known and well-loved Calexico teacher who died early Monday morning in a car crash in the Alpine area.
Jim Arevalo, 59, was killed when a woman suspected of driving under the influence hit him, according to a Calexico Unified press release. He was on his way back from visiting his son in San Diego.
Angela Cherene August, 25, of Alpine was traveling east on Interstate 8 west of Tavern Road in a 2009 Toyota Yaris just before 3 a.m. Monday when for unknown reasons she lost control, went up an embankment and her car rolled several times before coming to rest on its wheels, according to the California Highway Patrol.
It remains unclear if Arevalo then stopped to render aid or collided with the Yaris, but it is confirmed that he was outside of his Chevrolet Silverado pickup when Sunny Hall, 30, of El Cajon collided with the Yaris.
The force of Hall’s car killed both Arevalo and August on impact. Hall was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence.
Arevalo had worked for the district for 34 years, alternating between teaching fifth- and sixth-grade at Dool Elementary School, and Calexico Unified Superintendent Richard Fragale said he “touched the lives” of many students.
“He was a mentor and colleague who was liked by all,” Fragale wrote. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Arevalo family during their time of grief.”
Dool Elementary Principal Liliana Dimian said the school community is “in shock” at the news.
“We sort of look around and hope we can wake up, that it’s only a bad dream,” she said. “We all liked him. He was very generous with the kids and with everybody. … He really liked to work with the kids and build things with them.”
Arevalo was expected to be at the school today in preparation for teaching summer school, and those who knew him believe in all likelihood he stopped to help the first woman in the wreck.
“It was just like him to help somebody else,” she said. “He still had a lot to give to his students, to his family. He absolutely loved his family. It still feels unreal, and we will definitely miss him.”
Dool teacher Diana Harvey said Arevalo taught two of her children and was well-liked for being a hands-on teacher who liked “to do a lot of fun things with the kids, not just strict book-learning.”
She said he was “always laughing and teasing people,” and will “be sorely missed. He touched a lot of lives.”
It made sense that Arevalo would have stopped to help someone, Harvey agreed.
“That’s what he always did for all of us. If we had something broken, he would take it home and make it work,” Harvey said. “He was our all-around helpful guy and now we’ve lost him.”
He went every day to visit with his mother during his lunch break and had three children, two boys and a girl.
“He was a wonderful father, no doubt about that,” Harvey said. “A wonderful father and wonderful husband and doted on his mother.”
School psychologists will be available to employees and students, and staff will be updated on services and arrangement information as it’s provided.
Staff Writer Chelcey Adami can be reached at 760-337-3452 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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