Father Raul Valencia Garcia

Padre Raul Valencia Garcia

A Tucson-based priest with roots in Ambos Nogales was killed in a car wreck on Interstate 19 near Sahuarita.

Father Raul Valencia Garcia, the 60-year-old pastor of St. Monica Parish in Tucson, died in the second of two related crashes last Friday morning.

An Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman said the first crash, a rollover involving a semi-truck, occurred at 6:30 a.m. south of Sahuarita Road and ended up blocking both lanes. The driver wasn’t injured.

A motorist told troopers he was stopped due to the back-up caused by the first crash when he felt his vehicle shake at around 8:15 a.m. Unhurt, he said, he looked in his rear-view mirror and saw a vehicle traveling into the median.

The vehicle came to rest in the median after sustaining major damage and the driver, later identified as Valencia, died at the scene.

Troopers saw no signs of braking prior to the crash, the DPS spokesman said.

According to the Diocese of Tucson, Valencia was a native of Nogales, Sonora who began his adult life by studying to be a dentist. He had his own general dentistry practice in Nogales, Sonora from 1986 to 1997 before entering the priesthood.

He was on his way to Nogales to visit family when he was killed in the crash, the diocese said.

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