September 25, 2016 10:35 PM
A head-on collision on I-25 east of Santa Fe came shortly after 911 calls about a wrong-way driver about 11:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office says the collision was caused by 44-year-old Clara Avina. They say she was driving south at “highway speeds” on northbound I-25.
Authorities say Avina crashed head-on into 23-year-old Anton Gress’ vehicle. Deputies say that both vehicles “sustained massive front-end damage” and were engulfed in flames when they arrived.
First responders say Gress was still alive when they arrived, but were unable to remove him from the vehicle before it exploded.
Now, those that loved and worked with Gress are mourning the loss.
“Anton was someone that had an immense light coming from him, almost a divine light that touched everyone, whether you knew him for one minute or you knew him for ten years,” said Jamie Schaible, who worked with him at Izanami.
She said Gress was a bartender at Izanami where his father also worked.
“There was just a real deep connection and his smile, his attitude, how he showed up every day really made you warm and really made you feel loved,” said Schaible.
While she wraps her mind around this tragedy, she said she’s just trying to be strong for his family.
“We are going to be that united front and that family, that sphere of safety and support for him, she said.
Authorities say alcohol may have been a factor in the crash.