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Moreno Valley coach and family die in crash

February 14, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
A local high school football coach is believed to be one of the victims in a fiery crash in Ontario. Villalpando grew up in Redlands. He and his brothers played football at Redlands High School, so this is a family as well as a community tragedy that's deeply felt in Redlands and Moreno Valley where he worked.

Villalpando and his wife Veronica and their two children 4-year-old Mateo and his little sister Bella Rose were en route to get a pizza Saturday at around 12:30 p.m. driving south on the 15 Freeway near Jurupa Street. That's when their car got tangled up in a chain-reaction accident.

The Villalpandos' vehicle caught fire as it was hit by at least two of three big rigs involved in the collision. All four members of the family died.

"Excellent athlete, really good attitude and very coachable," described Al Sanchez who has served as the statistician for Redlands High School's athletic teams for five decades.

He remembers Villalpando as a standout defensive football player and a great human being.

"I heard about it yesterday that there was that terrible accident on the 15 and I heard the news say Ryan Villalpando, and I told my wife immediately, 'I knew Ryan. He played football for the Redlands Terriers,'" said Sanchez.

After high school, Villalpando and his wife both attended Cal State San Bernardino. Villalpando was later hired as the assistant football coach at Moreno Valley High School, a dream job for him.

Students remember him as tough but fair as a coach and a P.E. teacher.

"He was pretty cool. He was pretty outgoing. I had him for summer school in P.E., and he would always be telling us to work hard and get all fit for P.E. and run a lot and work out to try to be as fit as him," said Jeffrey Vargas, a Moreno Valley High School student.

The Villalpando family said they were too distraught to discuss the tragedy that came upon them so quickly and unexpectedly.


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