SANTA CRUZ -- Students and administrators at Mission Hill Middle School on Wednesday mourned the death of sixth-grader Ismael Torres, an 11-year-old who was killed in a highway crash in New Mexico.
Torres' father, 49-year-old Rosalio Torres, was driving a white, 2001 Ford Excursion on Interstate 10 with Ismael and his two brothers and sister, said Luna County Undersheriff Arturo Baeza.
School officials said they were on their way to Mexico to visit friends and family for the holidays.
About 11 p.m., another vehicle apparently pulled in front of the Ford on the four-lane, divided highway. The Ford flipped and crashed, Baeza said.
Ismael was found down the road and declared dead at the scene, authorities said. Christian Torres, his 18-year-old brother, was trapped in the wreck.
Firefighters from Deming, N.M., responded and used equipment to free him.
Christian, 13-year-old Yareth Torres and Enrique Torres -- Ismael's twin brother, all were transported to the hospital. Rosalio had minor injuries.
Authorities did not release the condition of the rest of the family.
Rosalio described the other vehicle to authorities. They searched but did not find it.
Ismael, Enrique and Yareth attend Mission Hill. Christian is a
Mission Hill Middle School Principal Valerie Quandt said Ismael and Enrique had started sixth grade in the fall. Their sister, Yareth, is in the eighth grade.
"They are sweet, sweet kids," Quandt said of the Torres children. "And they were never apart, those twins."
Word-of-mouth spread quickly at the school after the crash, Quandt said. To help clear the air, teachers on Tuesday read a statement to students about the crash and offered grief counseling.
"We had dozens of kids coming in and out of the counselor's office," said Quandt. "A couple of kids had to go home."
A letter with counseling resources also was distributed to students Tuesday to share with their parents.
Quandt said the Torres family now faces funeral and medical expenses and must replace their totaled SUV.
"We're very concerned about their needs," she said.
A fund in Rosalio Torres' name has been set up at Bank of America at account No. 325011635741. Donations can be made at any Bank of America branch.
A memorial service for Ismael will take place at 1 p.m. Friday at Holy Cross Catholic Church, 126 High St. in Santa Cruz.
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HOW TO HELP
Donations for the Torres family can be made at any Bank of America branch to account No. 325011635741.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at Holy Cross Catholic Church, 126 High St., Santa Cruz.