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Father of girl killed crossing Highway 101 speaks about coping with losing his wife and daughter

PRUNEDALE, Calif. (KION-TV)- The father of Eliana Paloma Gonzalez, or "Nichie" as she was affectionately known, has lost another piece of his heart. 

He's grieving for his wife, whom he lost last October, and is now having to live without his little girl, who tragically died recently. He can't help but feel like he could have done more to prevent her death. 

"She was my buddy, y'know? said Jermain Gonzales, father of Eliana Paloma Gonzalez. "She cannot be with a babysitter for more than a day because she starts calling out for me, and I'd be lying to you if I'd say I didn't feel any guilt."

Read more: 7-year-old girl who was killed while trying to cross Highway 101 has been identified

Little Eliana was autistic, said her father. That tragic night she opened the door to her grandma's house while everyone was sleeping.

Then she attempted to cross Highway 101 in Prunedale. Moments after stepping on the highway, she would be struck by cars and die.

It's heartbreak and pains her father, who doesn't wish this pain on anyone else. That night, Gonzalez said he was watching Lion King with his little girl, and she first fell asleep, and then he did.

"The cop lady told me she got hit by a car and didn't survive so coldly, and it was like a stroke," said Gonzalez. "I fell on my knees... I was about to faint."

When these things happen, therapists specializing in autism say it's vital for parents to teach their kids about safety. 

"The parents need to talk to their child about safety, and I think stuff like child locks and these kinds of preventative measures," said Stephen Robertson. 

Gonzalez wants people to remember his little girl like the sunshine that she was. 

"Loved happiness, being happy, loved the sun, loved beautiful days, and she hated sadness," said Gonzales.

Eliana's funeral services will be next Monday morning in Watsonville at Mehl's Colonial Chapel. 

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Nataly Gutierrez


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