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‘The hardest thing’: Laird family mourns husband, father

Community: Deadly weekend collision just a block away from family’s home leaves widow, four children

Posted: May 3, 2010 10:50 p.m.
Updated: May 4, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Jessica Laird hugs her children Janessa, 9, and Jonathon, 13, as they stand near the intersection of Plum Canyon Road and Santa Catarina Road, the location where her husband and father Jeff Laird was killed in a collision Saturday.

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Jeff Laird went to pick up his son’s ROTC uniform from the dry cleaners. Then, the 41-year-old Saugus man was supposed to return home and take his wife and four children to church.

He was gone for a bit too long, and his wife, Jessica Laird, 33, felt something was wrong when her husband wouldn’t answer his phone.

Worried, she got into her car and drove off to look for him.

She saw the flashing lights just a block away from their home on Santa Catarina Road. It was a deadly crash, and her husband was the victim.

“It’s the hardest thing of my life,” a sobbing Jessica Laird said on Monday. “I can’t really believe that it happened; that our daughter’s not going to have her dad and he can’t see her first steps.”

The couple wed five years ago. He took in Jessica’s three children — Yobany, 15, Jonathon, 13, and Janessa, 9 — as his own. They had Julyssa nine months ago.

“They’re very sad,” Jessica Laird said. “As far as (Jeff) was concerned, they were all his kids. As far as they’re concerned, that’s their dad.”

Jeff Laird worked full time as an engineering technician. He was also a full-time online student at Colorado Technical University, working towards his bachelor’s degree and perhaps a master’s one day.

“He worked full time and he was trying to better our life, so he was also in school full time,” she said. “He wanted our finances to change and to provide everything he could for us.”

Laird’s death has left his widow and their children struggling to pay for his funeral.

California Highway Patrol officials said Laird was turning left from Plum Canyon Road onto Santa Catarina Road on Saturday evening when his Scion xB collided with an oncoming Dodge Durango. He died at the scene.

It’s unclear how fast either of the vehicles were going.

The driver of the Dodge, Garrett Brixon, 19, of Valencia was released from the Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital emergency room on Saturday, spokeswoman Laura Young said.

Laird doesn’t know all the details of her husband’s death but she is left wondering how she will cover the expenses of his funeral and burial.

“I don’t know how to come up with the full price immediately,” she said.

She said just a day earlier, she was out to dinner with her husband and 9-month-old, enjoying an evening away from his homework.

Her husband was her best friend.

“All he wanted to do was be with us,” she said. “We did everything together.”

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