Clara Arroyo was on her way to Mexico to visit her grandmother for Christmas. Now, her family in Dalton is mourning her sudden loss.
“She left so happy, because it’s not like she didn’t want to go, she wanted to go. She wanted to have fun,” says Julissa Rodriguez, Clara’s sister.
Julissa says Clara was more than just a sister — she was her best friend.
She says she spoke to Clara the day before she left for Mexico.
“I told her that I loved her and to take care but I didn’t think I was going to say bye to her like that,” she says.
The next day, Clara and five others were killed in a crash on a highway in Texas. The driver of the SUV went off of the road, causing the vehicle to hit another car and catch on fire.
Investigators are working to determine what caused the crash.
“She didn’t deserve to go that way, you know. She just she wishes that she didn’t suffer,” Julissa says, interpreting for her mother.
Julissa says Clara loved Christmas. She decorated her family’s home and left presents under the tree before she left.
“I tell my mom not to hate the holidays because it’s more like a memory that she just left behind, says Julissa. “And every holiday on Christmas and on her birthday — it’s just something we’re going to have to remember.”
Though Clara’s presence is no longer felt, family members say they know her spirit will live on forever.
“She says that if she’s gone now, she just wants her to be with God,” Julissa says, interpreting her mother’s words. “If she’s with God and she’s happy, we’re going to stay strong for her and be happy too.”