Thursday, May 28, 2020
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20180810 ReyMolinaFor Daryella Gutierrez, having Criminal Justice Professor Reynaldo “Rey” Molina III as her instructor was one of the things she was looking forward to the most in her upcoming senior year at Sharyland High School.

Unfortunately, that won’t come true for her and other students after Molina passed away Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018 following a motorcycle accident last month in his hometown of Rio Grande City that affected two others.

“Mr. Molina impacted me a lot this past year,” Gutierrez said. “As an adviser for the criminal justice club, he always supported and believed in me, it was very reassuring for me to see someone in criminal justice-a field I want to participate in-be like that with me.”

Gutierrez said this Wednesday, August 8, 2018 following a balloon release at Sharyland High School in honor of Molina.

About 30 people, mostly students of Molina participated in the event where they wrote messages addressed to Molina and released them afterward.

“It shows that his memory might float away, but we will always remember him,” Gutierrez said. “He may not be here physically with us, but we’re always going to remember him.”

The crash

Molina was hospitalized following a motorcycle crash in Rio Grande City that occured Thursday, July 26, 2018.
According to RGC Assistant Police Chief Jose Solis, officers were called to the 4500 block of U.S. Highway 83 at about 10:35 p.m. in reference to an auto-pedestrian accident involving three individuals.

When police arrived at the scene, they found Jose Cervantes, 68, who was pronounced dead at the scene, and Molina and his friend, Victor Saenz, in critical condition.

While the investigation is ongoing, police believe the accident was caused after Cervantes was crossing the street where he failed to yield for Molina and Saenz, causing Saenz to crash into him. This created a domino effect where Saenz was thrown off from his motorcycle and Molina crashed into Saenz’s motorcycle, causing him to be thrown off from his motorcycle as well, Solis said.

Both men were transported to McAllen Medical Center in critical condition. Molina died over a week later and Saenz remains hospitalized.

Cervantes was well known in the community as he usually stood off the side of the highway selling cornbread, Solis said.

“I’d always see him every afternoon, selling cornbread, but I never knew his name until this case.” Solis reflected. “From what we figured out, he was actually walking home after shopping at Walmart, after buying supplies to make cornbread for the next day.”

Solis noted that the entire city was in mourning after the crash based off of posts he’s seen on Facebook offering prayers and condolences to the three families affected by this crash, which he called a “bad accident.”

“All three are from Rio Grande City and a lot of people knew them all,” Solis said, adding that he and Molina’s paths would cross when Molina served as an investigator for the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office. “All three of these individuals were very loved by the community and, in the blink of an eye, all of their families were affected by this unfortunate accident. We’re hoping Victor can pull through. The community is taking this accident pretty hard.”

The tribute

Molina graduated in 2007 from Rio Grande City High School and received his Peace Officer License from Laredo Police Academy in 2010. He received an Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice from South Texas College in 2015 and Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Lamar University in 2017. He became employed with Sharyland High School as a Criminal Justice teacher for the previous school year.

At Wednesday’s balloon release, Frank Elizondo, a criminal justice professor, spoke highly of Molina.

“He was amazing, all the students looked up to him,” Elizondo recalled. “He was enthusiastic and caring, you could tell right off the bat he was excited to join the teaching profession. I miss him, he was like family to me, my little brother.”

20180808 ReyMolinaBallonsElizondo, who wrote on his balloon “Love you kid, take care of us,” said the balloon release showed how the community was able to band together following this tragic accident.

“This goes to show how united our community here is, everyone here is family,” Elizondo said.

Sharyland School Board President expressed condolences for Molina’s family and the loss they and others affected by the accident are experiencing.

“We’re devastated by the tragic news and the fact that his family is dealing with this,” Smith said in a Tuesday phone interview. “It’s so unfortunate and tragic that a young, beautiful life was lost and Sharyland will feel his absence, our prayer goes to his family and those suffering.”

Though she wasn’t able to attend the balloon release, Smith said she was proud of the students organizing the event.

“It’s a beautiful tribute that makes the community proud" she said.

Gutierrez, Gabby Martinez and Marifer Saldivar, all three who were familiar with Molina, organized the event.

“We decided to do this because Mr. Molina was very important to us.” Saldivar said. “Although he was only here for a short amount of time, the impact he made was unexplainable and this is a small way to show his family how much we appreciated him. He was such a welcoming man with a pure heart who loved everyone, his positivity just filled the room, that’s something he taught us to do, always be positive.”

Saldivar, who wrote on her balloon “You’ll always have a place in my heart,” said that ultimately, she and her friends plan to honor Molina by pursuing their studies in the area of criminal justice.

“We really miss him and he will always hold a place in our hearts,” Saldivar said. “Though he won’t get to see us graduate, we’re going to make sure to make him proud.”