The community is rallying to support a Stanley family after the deaths of brothers Pedro “Pete” Sandoval and Mateo Sandoval Jan. 14 in a crash as the boys headed to school.
The brothers attended Moriarty High School, where they were stand-out student athletes, taking part in football, basketball, track and 4-H. The high school canceled all events on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and brought in its crisis response team.
According to Santa Fe County spokesperson Juan Rios, a two-vehicle head-on collision occurred on N.M. 41 south of Dinkle Road at approximately 6 a.m.
The 59-year old driver of the other vehicle, Ramon Armendariz, was treated for non-life-threatening injuries, according to his daughter Jackie Armendariz.
Rios said Jan. 16 that the incident “remains open and under investigation,” adding that the accident reconstruction team will review its findings within 45 days.
A Rosary and funeral Mass will be at the Moriarty High School gym on Jan. 22, with the Rosary starting at 9 a.m., followed by eulogies and celebration of Mass at 10 a.m.
Burial will be at the Stanley Cemetery, and there will be a reception at the Moriarty Civic Center the same day.
News of the two teenagers’ deaths rocked through the community on social media, with hundreds of posts of condolences, prayers, and offers to help the Sandoval family. A gofundme account was started, which as The Independent went to press had reached $36,995.
Both young men played on Moriarty’s varsity football team and were friends and teammates with two boys whose parents own Buttercrust Pizza, which is holding a fundraiser for the Sandovals Jan. 22. The business will donate 50% of its profits to the family in the memory of the brothers, said Sarah Wright, who owns the business with her husband.
Her 14-year-old son Ryan said, “Pete and Mateo worked hard every day to pursue their dreams of being star athletes, but sadly that dream was cut short. Rest in peace, brothers.”
Bryan Wright, 17, said that he, teammate Justin Carmona and Pete Sandoval “were like peanut butter and jelly together in football.”
Moriarty athletic director and the school’s previous football coach Joe Anaya choked back tears as he talked about the Sandoval brothers. He coached Pete Sandoval for two years.
“They were great, great kids. You hear that all the time but they truly were great kids,” Anaya said. “They were liked and respected by everybody they came in contact with. They were very respectful, said ‘yes, sir,’ ‘no, sir,’ very hardworking—extremely easy to coach. They were very committed, and very dedicated to what they were doing, not only in athletics, but in the classroom as well.”
Anaya said the impact on the other athletes wouldn’t end quickly, calling it devastation. “It’s gonna hurt for awhile. Every time there’s a workout and they’re not there, it’s going to sting. … It’s going to affect them, and each kid it’s going to affect differently. They were both really close to a lot of their teammates in very different ways.”
Moriarty-Edgewood School District superintendent Teresa Salazar said the district’s crisis response team was sent to the high school as soon as they heard about the accident.
The team is made up of counselors and mental health counselors, who direct the specific activities. Counselors, along with local church pastors and priests, are at the high school as well, Salazar said.
Students, staff and teachers can talk to counselors in groups or one-on-one, Salazar said, adding that school districts from around the state have offered help and resources as well.
Crisis response team members also went to South Mountain Elementary and Edgewood Middle School, where the boys attended, Salazar said.
The superintendent said the decision about when they would be ready to play again was left to the coaches and players. The boys basketball team decided to play Jan. 17 as scheduled, against Portales.
The schedule had originally called for the girls to travel to Portales the same night, but instead the Portales girls are coming to Moriarty, Salazar said. “We need our kids here, to help that healing process, to have our community support them,” she said.
Games start at 2 p.m. with C Team and JV, moving to girls varsity at 5 p.m. and the boys varsity game at 6:30 p.m.
Classes have been cancelled at Moriarty High School on Jan. 22, in case anyone wants to attend the funeral service which will be held at the gym, Salazar said.
Domonic Sandoval said his father and Ernie Sandoval, Pete and Mateo’s father, are “double first cousins,” explaining that his grandfather and his brother married two sisters.
The large extended family grew up on Familia Lane in Stanley, he said.
He said his cousins were inseparable, and a model for his own young sons. “They are the kids that you want your kids to grow up to be,” he said. “The best sons that anybody could ask for, respectful, who lit up a room, who were always willing to shake everyone’s hand.”
He said when their grandpa passed away a couple of years ago, Pete and Mateo said they would “be the ones to take care of grandma, and they did.”
“They were inseparable and did everything together. The sports was a big part of it,” Domonic Sandoval said. “Mateo idolized his brother. Whatever one did, the other one did.”
He said when his son, now five, was born, “Mateo was the one. He loved holding babies. He was the one who would watch him at family events, play with them, carry them around. He was so good to our boys, such a kind soul, a pleasure to be around.”