WOODBURN, Ore. (KOIN) — Heron Mendez was driving a van with five passengers along I-5 when he slammed into the back of a tanker trailer. Everyone in the van was injured, including Carlos Daniel Perez.
Perez was a rising boxing star and was on his way to a Portland boxing competition at the time of the crash near Donald that Saturday morning. Six days later, he died from his injuries. He was 14.
“I really loved this kid. He was like my son,” Mendez, 66, told KOIN 6 News.
Dealing with his death has been extremely difficult. But now the family feels like they’ve lost even more of him. His backpack, that included a tablet with photos and videos of his fights, is missing from the van.
Family friend Pam Bridge went to the lot where the van was impounded to pick up his backpack from the van.
“It was obvious someone had ransacked it,” she said. “Things were pulled out of everywhere.”
Bridge said the Oregon State Police told her she could take the backpack. But she told KOIN 6 News a worker at Woodburn Towing wouldn’t let her — and refused to call the police to verify she could take it.
The towing company’s spokesperson, Mickey Henson, declined to speak with KOIN 6 News on-camera. But he did say in 15 years there has never been any break-ins at the business. Henson also said they’re working with OSP and ODOT to see if the backpack might have been lost at the scene of the crash.
But the family is skeptical and Mendez doesn’t believe it.
“It’s stealing from the dead,” he said. “You don’t do things like that. You just don’t do things like that.”
If anyone has the tablet or knows where it is, the family asks you to contact Heron Mendez at Heron Boxing Club, 36924 Hills Creek Road, Jasper, Oregon.