Creighton University freshman Salvador “Chava” Valdovinos was so responsible, so enthusiastic and so ready to work, that when he didn't show up for his work study job at 9 a.m. Monday, his boss knew something was wrong.
Maureen Beat soon learned the horrible news. Valdovinos, 18, had been killed in a car crash that morning on Interstate 29, as he returned to Omaha from his home in South Sioux City, Neb.
“We can't get him out of our mind; it is not going to be the same without him,” said Beat, administrative assistant for the Creighton EDGE program, where Valdovinos worked about 10 hours per week.
Valdovinos was southbound on the Interstate, at the wheel of a 2000 GMC Sonoma about 7:20 a.m. that morning just north of Mondamin when the truck went off the west side of the road.
Valdovinos overcorrected and lost control, crossed the median, went airborne and crashed into the side of a northbound semi, driven by Rebecca Griffin of Pine Bluff, Ark., according to the Iowa State Patrol.
The Sonoma struck the sleeper section of the semi, where William Griffin, also of Pine Bluff, was lying down.
Valdovinos and William Griffin were killed. Rebecca Griffin was flown to Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha, where she remained in fair condition Wednesday.
The Iowa State Patrol is still investigating the crash.
“They are trying to find out why he lost control,” said Patrol Sgt. Scott Bright. “Something like that is going to take awhile.”
Services for Valdovinos will be Saturday at St. Michael's Catholic Church in South Sioux City. Visitation will be from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the church both today and Friday. Mohr Funeral Home is handling arrangements.
Valdovinos was a 2013 graduate of Bishop Heelan Catholic High School in Sioux City, where he was a top student and standout soccer player.
He was studying business administration at Creighton and aspired to get a master's degree and start a family business.
His goal: Make his immigrant parents proud, said Yesica Valdovinos, 21, a cousin. Felix and Veronica Valdovinos moved to the United States from Mexico when Salvador was 5 to take jobs at the Tyson plant in South Sioux City.
“He valued family and education and he always strived to have a better future than his parents,” said Yesica Valdovinos, of Sioux City and a junior at Iowa State University. “He was always looking for ways to make them proud. He really did do it in his short-lived years.”
Creighton EDGE is an advising service for pre-health professions and pre-law students. Valdovinos performed various office duties.
In the service's offices, a small memorial to Valdovinos has been set up. Alumni will be able to see it as they tour campus during Alumni Homecoming Weekend, beginning today and lasting through Sunday.