By Michael Slother - email
LUBBOCK,TX (KCBD) - Michael Ybarra celebrated his 19th birthday with family and friends. The celebration ended when he was on the way to his sister's house, but he never made it. "Before he left he kissed us and told us he loved us. We told him the same and we left the restaurant and I know he took that with him," said Ybarra's mother Natalie Jasso.
It just so happens that Jasso is a Sergeant with the Lubbock County Sheriff's Department. She was moved when witness Jerry Renfro came by her home to offer his condolences. Those feelings changed after he told her more could have been done to save her son."I'm not saying I'm blaming the tow truck driver, I'm just saying I want to make sure that he did everything," Jasso said.
Ybarra's car ran into a tow truck between Lubbock and Slaton and caught on fire. Renfro said the flames were small, around 3 feet long for almost 2 minutes. "I could be wrong but I think that if I had a fire extinguisher, I could have put that fire out," said Renfro.
Commercial vehicles like tow trucks are required to have fire extinguishers available in case of emergencies. Texas Department of Public Safety Corporal Randall Gustafson explained. "It has to be securely mounted; it can't be moving around everywhere and easily accessible to the driver," he said.
So where was the driver's fire extinguisher when it was needed? "He [the driver] was on the phone reporting the accident and I hollered 'Where's the fire extinguisher?' He said I don't know, I can't find it," said Renfro.
After their search came up empty, Renfro said the flames engulfed the car. He was forced to watch, knowing there was nothing he could do. "That's something you don't ever want to have to live through right there, I can't sleep, I can't eat."
Michael's mother is busy preparing for the funeral. As she waits for the results of the investigations into her son's death, she continues to miss her son. "I just wish there would have been more left of him so that I could say goodbye."
We called the tow truck company for a comment and were told to contact their lawyer. We weren't able to get a hold of the lawyer, but after talking with the tow truck company's insurance agency we learned private investigators and attorneys will be in town this weekend to continue the investigation.
A memorial fund has been set up for Ybarra at Wells Fargo and American State Bank. Donations can be made under Natalie Ybarra.
The family told KCBD NewsChannel 11 that visitation will be at Englunds Funeral Service and Chapel of Slaton from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Thursday. A rosary will be held at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Slaton at 7 p.m., and the funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Slaton.
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