Family remembers Bakersfield couple killed in crash

Family remembers Bakersfield couple killed in crash »Play Video

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — The family of a Bakersfield couple killed by an alleged drunk driver near Shandon earlier this month has opened up to Eyewitness News to remember the couple's lives, as they also consider forgiveness for the alleged drunk driver.

Charles Massara, 69, and his wife Irene, 68, were driving back from San Luis Obispo via Highway 46 on Aug. 17 when their sedan collided with an SUV that turned suddenly in front of them. Another vehicle crashed into the back of the Massara's sedan.

Irene Massara died at the scene, while Charles Massara succumbed to his injuries after being airlifted to a local hospital.

The California Highway Patrol said the driver of the SUV, 38-year-old Vicente Muniz Montes, of Shandon, left the crash scene with his passenger, 27-year-old Florencio Ochoa Rojas. They were later found and arrested by San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's deputies.

Montes has been charged with three felonies for driving under the influence, hit-and-run and vehicular manslaughter.

"I saw a white car pulling up and, at first, I thought it might've been them, because their little Versa is a white car," said the couple's son, Michael Massara, about the night of the crash. "Low and behold, it was the coroner's office, and my heart just sunk. It was devastating."

Michael Massara said his parents, who had just celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary, were a happy couple, always active in the community and their church.

"They always made it a point to be there," said Michael Massara of his parents' charitable work.

Their pastor, Hector Rizo, echoed his statements.

"They put in the action, they weren't just all words," Rizo said. "Chuck was just a giver, so was Irene. They had the resources, but they also came down and gave up their time."

Michael Massara said he is willing to forgive Montes for what happened to his parents, and is grateful because his daughter was initially scheduled to accompany his parents on their trip to coast.

"I have to forgive him for that. I have to forgive him for a poor decision," he said. "Call that cab. Don't get behind the wheel."