Lubbock mothers build support group to deal with life-changing t - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Lubbock mothers build support group to deal with life-changing tragedy

Deneis Arriaga and Isabel Espinoza (Source: KCBD Video) Deneis Arriaga and Isabel Espinoza (Source: KCBD Video)
Felysha Villa and Stephanie Arriaga (Source: KCBD Video) Felysha Villa and Stephanie Arriaga (Source: KCBD Video)
The Compassionate Friends (Source: KCBD Video) The Compassionate Friends (Source: KCBD Video)

Two Lubbock women have built a friendship in the face of tragedy after both of their daughters died in separate car accidents on Milwaukee Avenue, just two years apart.

"I lost my daughter on September 26, 2008," Isabel Espinoza recalls. "She died in a car accident."

But, for Deneis Arriaga, it's been 10 years since she last saw her daughter, Stephanie Arriaga.

"She was 15 at the time," she says. "She was also a student from Frenship. She was killed on 34th and Milwaukee in a car accident."

Stephanie died on September 8, 2006, when a car she was riding in hit a utility pole. The teenager was pronounced dead at the scene.

Deneis sheds tears as she tells her daughter's story.

"I used to sit and think she would just come knocking at the door telling me she was lost," Deneis said.

But that knock never came.

"I remember writing Deneis a note and I put it inside of her pocket at the funeral," Isabel remembers.

But, Isabel did not know that she would be experiencing the same pain and tears, just a couple of years later.

"I do remember getting that phone call," she says.

17-year-old Felysha Villa was killed in a car wreck at 15th and Milwaukee, just two years later.

"That's the most awful thing a parent could hear, is your child didn't make it," she says. "She was still warm. She wasn't disfigured, you couldn't even tell she had been in a car accident, she just had little cuts on her fingers."

Stephanie and Felysha were friends at Frenship High School. Now both moms say they're hoping to turn their tragedies into hope for other families going through something similar.

"I started going online seeking a support system, here in Lubbock, and there was none," Isabel said.

So, she started making the trek to Big Spring once a month, before deciding to start a chapter with the help of a new friend.

"I told her, I think we need a chapter in Lubbock," she explains. "I told her I want you to start this with me, because she knew what I was going through and what Compassionate Friends did, there are other parents just like us that have lost children and we know exactly how they feel."

Hoping to spread some light during a dark time in their lives, the two mothers have relied heavily on each other.

"I think by my faith and a good support system, good friends like Deneis and family, I think that's the only thing that gets you through it," Isabel says. "And I know Compassionate Friends, it was a big life saver for me."

Both moms say their goal is to help families through the grieving process.

"It's unfortunate this is what brought us together like this, but I'm glad she got me involved," Deneis says. "I'm glad she came to me and said this is what I want to do for the girls."

The Compassionate Friends of Lubbock is hosting a "Walk to Remember" for parents to remember children who have died.

The walk is on Saturday, Oct. 15 from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m. at the Buddy Holly Park. Registration for the walk is $20 per adult and $15 for children 16 and younger.

If you would like to learn more about The Compassionate Friends of Lubbock, you can email them at: or call (806) 218-2397.

The group meets at Lubbock Christian University on the first Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m.

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