Monica Rochin, 49, and Berenice "Rosy" Vargas, 35, were driving together the morning of July 7. Vargas was behind the wheel.
They were out shopping for supplies for a big family barbecue at “The Ranch” -- otherwise known as “Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Menifee.”
“My aunts were always together. They were very close,” Priscilla Monge of Moreno Valley explained.
But Rochin and Vargas, who were sisters-in-law from Menifee, never made it to the family get together and they will never make it home. Both were killed after the Lexus Vargas was piloting was broadsided by a Ford Ranger truck in Winchester, near Domenigoni Parkway and Leon Road, shortly before noon that fateful Sunday.
The man behind the wheel of truck is suspected of driving under the influence.
Funeral services are being held for both women Saturday, July 13, according to Monge, and a large turnout is expected.
“We are a big family and we are very close,” she said.
Vargas’s 17-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son were in the backseat of the Lexus during the crash. The teen was hospitalized with leg injuries and the boy was hospitalized briefly for less severe injuries, according to Monge. Vargas’s third child was not in the vehicle that day, nor were any of Rochin’s four kids or grandchild.
Family friend 54-year-old Felipe Rangel of Hemet was traveling in the backseat as well and suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
Children were everything to her aunts, Monge continued. Both women had been stay-at-home moms and were very proud of their kids. Monge said her Aunt Monica also spent significant time caring for her Uncle George.
“She was very dedicated to him,” she explained.
Dealing with last weekend's tragedy has not been easy, but Monge said the family’s closeness has helped ease some of the pain.
“We’re grieving and praying together every day,” she said. “There are a lot of us, so we’re leaning on each other for support.”
Noel Mayorga, 38, of Menifee is the man accused of causing the deaths of Monge’s aunts. His family has reached out, offering support and fundraising for the surviving children, Monge said.
His family is distant from Mayorga, according to what they told Monge.
“I personally feel bad for the family,” she said.
According to court records, no charges have been filed against Mayorga, who was seriously injured in the crash. His current medical condition is unknown. He will be arrested on suspicion of felony DUI and vehicular manslaughter when and if he recovers, according to the California Highway Patrol.
For Monge, she is focusing on the good memories of her aunts. She was close to them all of her life -- all of her 28 years.
The day before they died, there was a big family get together. Monge recalls her Aunt Berenice handing out tacos and dancing at the party, and she remembers the pranks her Aunt Monica pulled on the family.
“She loved to play practical jokes,” she said.
“Both of them were always the life of the party,” she continued. “They both had big personalities.”
Monge asked that the public be reminded the CHP is still seeking information about the crash and is asking anyone with information to contact the CHP San Gorgonio office at (951) 769-2000.
Also, Monge said carwash fundraisers are being held at Cal Tan and Beachwear, 475 W. Stetson Ave. in Hemet, this weekend and next. The car washes will begin at 7 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday; the same schedule is expected next weekend, she said. All proceeds will benefit the children of Rochin and Vargas, according to Monge.