Family surrounds sole survivor of wrong way crash

Three members of a Tucson family were killed early Sunday morning when a wrong-way driver struck their car on Interstate 19 between Continental and Canoa roads. The wrong-way driver, a Green Valley restaurant employee, also perished in the crash.

Angel Gradillas’ family still has a lot of unanswered questions. How long will he be in the hospital? What will his recovery entail? Where will he live once he’s released?

One thing is for sure, however, he has the love and support of dozens of family members and friends.

More than 20 of the 14-year-old Tucson boy’s loved ones packed the sixth floor waiting room at Diamond Children's Medical Center on Tuesday, two days after a wrong-way driver took the lives of his mother and two older brothers.

According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Tambra Hoskins, 52, of Green Valley was traveling south in the northbound lanes of Interstate 19 when she struck Angel’s family head-on around 12:45 a.m. Sunday between Continental and Canoa roads.

Hoskins, a bartender at American Legion Madera Post 131 and a server at the Coyote Grill, died at the scene along with Edith A. Munoz, 41, and Angel’s brothers, Mario A. Gradillas, 24, and Saul E. Gradillas, 19.

Angel was taken to the hospital in critical condition. DPS continues to investigate the crash.

Statistically speaking, DPS spokesman Bart Graves said most wrong-way drivers are impaired by drugs or alcohol.

“We haven’t determined definitively if that is the case,” Graves said Tuesday. “We have to wait for the autopsy results.”

ADOT studies wrong-way crashes, ways to avoid them

Angel’s cousin, Luis Barnett, 20, was the first to arrive at the hospital following the crash. A relative called him around 3 a.m. to break the news and the Peoria resident has been at the hospital ever since.

Angel was ejected from the vehicle and has a head injury and broke both arms and legs, Barnett said. He’s undergone multiple surgeries and is expected to have more.

“As soon as I got here, I rushed into his room,” Barnett said. “He was really confused, but he started remembering things yesterday.”

The family was their way home to Tucson from Nogales, Sonora, when the crash happened, he said. His grandmother, Delia, is in poor health and his cousins and aunt regularly visit her.

Normally, he makes the trip with them, but he begged off at the last minute because he was scheduled to work, Barnett said.

Barnett said his mom, Mayra, and his aunt, Yuri, told Angel Monday his mom and brothers didn’t survive the crash.

“He doesn’t believe it,” he said.

The family has not decided when services will be held, but the family was so well-loved, they hope to schedule one in Tucson and one in Nogales.

His aunt Edith was a florist, Saul was a server at Michas Restaurant and Mario worked at HomeGoods furniture store, Barnett said.

Angel is scheduled to graduate from Challenger Middle School in a couple of weeks, Barnett said. His principal brought letters from his classmates to the hospital.

The family is just concentrating on getting through the tragedy one day at a time, he said.

“God has a plan for every single one of us,” Barnett said. “The other driver probably didn’t know what she was doing. I bet her family is going through the same thing.”

Kim Smith | 520-547-9740

Assistant Editor Kim Smith moved to Arizona from Michigan when she was 16. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in journalism in 1989. She has worked at seven newspapers of varying size in Arizona, Texas and Nevada.

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