Family of Five Killed in Crash; Outpouring of Support

There's no erasing the sadness for one Riverdale family following the loss of five loved ones.

But more than 100 people hoped to lift at least one burden: funeral costs.

They gathered in the Riverdale Firehouse Monday night, to plan a series of fundraisers for the Saucedo and Tafoya families.

Esmeralda Saucedo and her four children, 11-year-old Breanna, six-year-old Jada, three-year-old Nikko and one-year-old Isaac were killed Saturday night just outside of Riverdale.

Highway Patrol officers say an unlicensed woman driving this minivan ran{} stop sign and hit their SUV.

It burst into flames within moments.

Saucedo's husband, and father of the children, was not far behind.

He tried to rescue them, but could not.

Family members say they had been on their way to celebrate Isaac's second birthday.

He would have turned two Monday.

But instead of a party, people spent Monday planning a fundraising lunch for Saturday.

Some admit, they did not know the family.

"When families are in need, you have to step in and help," says Buddy Mendes, who is with the Riverdale Lions Club.

They announced plans to make a donation for the family.

Karen Motley volunteered to help sell baked goods Saturday.

"I myself experienced a medical issue a year and a half ago, and this community rallied around and helped me," she says. "My heart is breaking for this family."

Those who did know the family say that helping with the fundraiser was the least they could do.

They want to help the family, and distract themselves of the grief they are also dealing with.

"There's no way to cope right now. It's too soon," says Marcie Hernandez, a friend of the family.

MaryAnn Lopez works at Riverdale High School, and knew Esmeralda Saucedo.

"This community may be small, but everyone has a huge heart. This isn't the first time we've done something like this, but God, I hope it's the last."

Should the family raise any excess funds, it plans to donate those to the Down Syndrome Society, in honor of Isaac.

He had Down Syndrome.

Tickets for Saturday's fundraising luncheon are being sold for $10 outside the Riverdale Fire Station starting tomorrow.

Here's information on other fundraisers:

Chili's restaurant locations in Fresno, Hanford, Visalia and Tulare plan to donate 15% of its sales on Thursday, February 20th, to the family. Those who dine there need to specify it's for the Saucedo family.

A car wash is being held Saturday in Fresno, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the corner of Kings Canyon and Cedar.

Radio Talk Show Host Ray Appleton is also organizing a fundraiser and will be accepting donations for the family.

An online fundraising account has also been set up.

You can find it here. {}