Friends remember man killed in head-on crash in Calhoun
Hours before Ryan Saldivar died in a Calhoun County car crash, he was cheering on the Seattle Seahawks.
He wasn't a big fan, he just wanted to get on the nerves of his best friend, Meranda Wilson, and also spend time with her.
Wilson met up with Saldivar at Hooters in Corpus Christi to watch the Super Bowl.
She was rooting for the Denver Broncos.
He was a free spirit who could make anyone smile, she said.
"It's just unreal. I'm the last person he said 'I love you' to. I'm the last person he touched, the last person he held," Wilson said Monday night.
Justice of the Peace Nancy Pomykal pronounced Saldivar, 27, of Port Lavaca, dead at the scene of the wreck, which happened about 10:40 p.m. Sunday near Hog Creek in Tivoli.
Department of Public Safety spokesman Trooper Gerald Bryant said the wreck happened at the intersection of state Highway 35 and Buffalo Lake Road.
Saldivar was driving north on the highway in a 2006 Chevrolet Malibu when he crossed the center stripe into the southbound lane and collided with a 2010 Dodge Ram truck driven by Laura Chavana, 59, of Rockport.
Troopers are investigating why Saldivar crossed into southbound traffic.
Bryant said the two vehicles hit on the driver side.
Chavana and her husband, Justo Chavana, 63, also of Rockport, were transported to Citizens Medical Center in Victoria by Calhoun Emergency Medical Services.
The Chavanas' niece, Jennifer Chavana Carlock, 26, of Port Lavaca, said her aunt was in the intensive care unit Monday night.
She said her uncle was in a private room but "pretty banged up."
She learned of her family members being hurt at 5 a.m. Monday. She was on her way to visit them at Citizens Medical Center about 6 p.m. Monday night.
"Later, I read that he (Saldivar) was in an accident, too. I was like, 'Oh, my goodness.' I started to put the clues together," Chavana Carlock said. "I'm just shocked."
Chavana Carlock graduated with Saldivar from Calhoun High School in 2005.
Her aunt and uncle were driving to their home in Rockport when the crash happened, she said.
Saldivar used to work in the electronics department at Wal-Mart, and she saw him a few months ago.
"He was so random. That was the best thing about him," Chavana Carlock said. "You would be talking about one thing, and he would throw you off by talking about something completely different."
"Star Wars" was one of those random topics.
He also was a talented drummer.
Wilson remembered she and Saldivar were once rival musicians in their high school band but eventually became best friends because they "had everything in common."
"Music is our lives," Wilson said.
Saldivar played in the rock bands See You Tomorrow and Divide and Conquer. Saldivar liked going by the nickname Beast, inspired by one of Jim Henson's Muppets, Animal.
Recently, Saldivar was busy helping an owner transform the Tropics Waterfront Bar & Grill in Port Lavaca to a Cathy's Restaurant.
Saldivar was going to be a cook at the Cathy's in Port Lavaca when it opened in March, Wilson said.
In his spare time, he went off-shore shrimping and liked carving fish and birds into wood.
He never turned away anybody who needed financial or emotional support even if they weren't friends or had hurt him in the past, Wilson said.
"He had the biggest heart, and for him, it was always forgiveness first," she said.
He is survived by his mother, Gloria, and younger brother, Ross, Wilson said.
Funeral arrangements are pending.