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Family Mourns El Paso Sailor Killed By Suicidal, Wrong-Way Driver

Some friendships last from childhood.

Others are formed in adulthood from a common bond.

U.S. Navy Petty Officer Oscar Avila-Mendoza, who was born in Juarez but moved to El Paso, and Navy Petty Officer Jesus Saenz of Las Cruces became best friends during boot camp. Both worked as Seabees, which is the Navy’s equivalent of combat engineers. The two best friends were preparing to deploy to Afghanistan together, according to the family.

On July 16, the two were involved in a serious car accident on a road near Malibu, Calif. that killed Avila-Mendoza and seriously injured Saenz.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s authorities said Avila-Mendoza was hit head on by a driver who was looking to commit suicide by intentionally crashing into another car. That car was going about 100 miles an hour and with its headlights turned off when it slammed right into Avila-Mendoza’s car.

Both Avila-Mendoza, and the driver, late identified as James Sorg, 39, of Roseville, Minn., died instantly.

Saenz suffered broken bones, and head trauma. He was airlifted to a nearby hospital where he remained in intensive care as of Monday night.

A memorial was held for Avila-Mendoza at a chapel at Naval Base Ventura County Port Hueneme on July 21.

Back in El Paso at Avila-Mendoza’s rosary on Monday night, his sister Ileana Avila said she and her family have suffered an incurable pain with his death.

“I have a huge pain, and there’s no words that can heal it,” Ileana told ABC-7.

The 23-year old Chapin grad was a dad to be. His child is expceted to be born on July 31. He also leaves behind his wife, Ana Avila.

Avila-Mendoza’s sister said, “he was always smiling so caring for others…you would never see him mad and now that I see him there laying down it doesn’t even look like him, because he would always have a huge smile on his face.”

Avila-Mendoza is expected to buried on Tuesday at the Fort Bliss Cemetery in El Paso.

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