Belen Martinez was about to enter Brownwood High School as a freshman, but her young life ended in a one-vehicle rollover accident Sunday night as she traveled home from Mexico with other family members.
She was 14.
Those were among the details City of Brownwood employee Josue Martinez shared by phone Wednesday morning about Belen, his cousin, who loved to draw and loved animals, particularly horses.
“She was a sweet young person, full of life,” said Martinez, who works in the city’s Fleet Services department. “It’s hard to think somebody so young, so full of life, and hasn’t gotten to live their life, is gone in the blink of an eye, the snap of a finger.
“We know she’s gone, but it hasn’t really hit us.”
Belen was among seven family members from Brownwood and Graham who spent about a week and a half in Durango, a city in northern Mexico about 740 miles below El Paso. Also on the trip were Belen’s mother, Margarita Martinez, 42; her 13-year-old sister, Erika; and four family members from Graham. They traveled to Durango to visit other family, Josue Martinez said. Belen’s father, Thomas Martinez, stayed behind to work.
Family member Ana Gonzalez, 40, of Graham, was driving the 2005 Chrysler Town and Country van when a tire blew out as the van traveled on Interstate 20 near Colorado City Sunday night, the Texas Department of Public Safety said. The van skidded off the road, entered the barrow ditch and rolled several times.
Margarita Martinez was among the injured and taken to Hendrick Medical Center in Abilene, the DPS said.
Belen, who was not wearing a seat belt, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Josue Martinez said he thinks the family was planning to drive to Graham when the accident happened.
Younger sister Erika is “taking it pretty rough,” Josue Martinez said. “They did everything together — two peas in a pod.”
Martinez said his cousin’s passion was drawing — mostly horses and dogs. Belen was around horses because her father works on a ranch, Martinez said.
Martinez didn’t think Belen had started to think about her long-range plans, but “everybody knew she was going to go somewhere in life,” Martinez said.
Belen was one of seven siblings — five brothers and sister Erika, he said.
“She was loved by many and was a humble person,” Martinez said.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the family, Martinez said.
Funeral arrangements have not been announced.