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Truck driver recalls final moments with 2 killed in I-5 collision

Siblings' sister seeks 'measure of comfort'

Posted: August 7, 2008 8:18 p.m.
Updated: October 9, 2008 5:01 a.m.

Lindsay Poggio, 22, was killed in a traffic collision on Interstate 5 Monday afternoon. Her brother, Alan Poggio, died in the same collision.

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It was all he could do as two young lives slipped away from him.

When Rialto truck driver Jose Galdamez saw the pickup truck slam into a small car parked behind a stopped motorcyclist on Interstate 5 Monday afternoon, it was all he could do to jump from his big rig and run to the driver of the car.

"I rushed to the car. I couldn't tell if the driver was a man or woman. I touched the arm," he said, recalling the crash that claimed the lives of Alan J. Poggio, 23 and his sister Lindsay Poggio, 22.

"It was the girl, I touched her arm," he said. "She was barely alive. I said, ‘Oh, my God, don't let her go.'"

Galdanez, a Christian, did the only thing he could.

"There was a little breath of life. I told her, ‘Just call upon the name of the Lord,'" he said during a Thursday phone interview.

And then she was gone, he said.

Galdanez who saw the motorcyclist thrown into the air by the collision, ran to him immediately.

"I said, ‘Hang in there, buddy,'" and then Jose Galdanez prayed for Alan Poggio with only seconds remaining in the young man's life as he lay in the middle of the interstate.

"When I saw him, he was going right before my eyes," Galdanez said, still shaken by the incident as he retold it. "He faded right before my eyes.

"Then it happened, his whole life just going by, I tried to help him."

As the young motorcyclist slipped away, Galdanez got down on his knees in the middle of I-5 and prayed.

"I was crying and I was on my knee," he said.

A routine Palmdale-to-Long Beach delivery route turned into a life-altering, devastating ordeal for Galdanez, father of four - two of whom are the same age as the Poggio siblings.

It wasn't until later that Galdanez learned the young people he knelt with in the last moments of their young lives were brother and sister.

"I just found out that they were siblings, that was too much for me," he said.

It was at that point he felt compelled to reach out to the Poggio family to tell them the details of those precious last moments he had shared with them.

"I spoke to Rudy, the father, and they're really looking forward to meeting me," Galdanez said.

Angie Brandon, the only surviving sibling of the brother and sister killed in the crash, said her family is a large Mormon family and would indeed welcome such news.

"She wanted to be an animator and only had to take one or two more classes," she said by phone from her home in Shafter. "Alan was taking computers and was in a computer information systems program at Cal State Chino."

Both her siblings had big plans and were well on their way to making them a reality.

Brandon, who works as an environmental technician in Bakersfield, said her brother had only obtained his motorcycle license last month.

She said the bodies of her brother and sister have not yet been returned to the family.

The family is hoping to have memorial services for the pair Monday or Tuesday, Brandon said, adding they will held at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Bakersfield Stake) at 5500 Fruitvale Ave. in Bakersfield.

Brandon said she hopes to learn more about the crash in order to "bring me a measure of comfort."

Alan and Lindsay Poggio, both of Shafter, about eight miles northwest of Bakersfield, died in a chain-reaction collision Monday afternoon when a Ford F350 pickup truck slammed into a car driven by the sister which, in turn, struck the motorcycle driven by her brother.

The collision occurred at about 1:20 p.m. Monday, when Alan Poggio was standing beside his red Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle on I-5 about 200 yards north of the Balboa Boulevard overpass.

His sister, driving a Dodge Neon, was in her car stopped behind him when her car was hit by a pickup truck.
The truck, in turn, pushed Poggio's Neon into the concrete K-rail barrier.

Jose Galdanez was in a merging lane behind the pickup truck when the collision occurred and forced him to brake suddenly, narrowly avoiding hitting the pickup truck, he said, adding that he had given an account of the incident to California Highway Patrol officers at the scene.

Galdanez said he checked on the pickup driver's condition as well.

He found the driver - identified by the CHP as Ronald R. Benedetti, 50, of Littlerock, CA - dazed.

"He broke down and started crying," Galdanez said.

Benedetti was treated and released from Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital.

The chain reaction crash is still being investigated by CHP Officer Eric Stayer.

"They appear to have stopped at the same time," he said Wednesday. "There were a number of witnesses and that has been helpful."

One of those witnesses is Galdanez, whose life has been turned upside down by the incident.

"I'm devastated," he said. "I'm still devastated by this. It impacted me."

Galdanez said he saw Alan Poggio walking his motorcycle from the middle lane to the shoulder when the collision happened.

At least two other truck divers ran to the victims, waving their arms at approaching motorists to prevent them from hitting Alan Poggio.

An ambulance that was on the same stretch of freeway sounded its sirens and turned on its flashing lights.

Even then, Galdanez said, it was too late for the young siblings.

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