9:07 AM PST, November 23, 2021
A 17-year-old Albuquerque boy who died saving his family from a house fire has been hailed a hero, and an honor walk was held for him as family, and friends gathered to say their final goodbyes, according to published reports.
Xaven Garcia tragically died on Nov. 14 after he succumbed to the injuries he suffered in a fire that broke out in his New Mexico home. As the fire raged, the heroic teen woke his father, Phil Garcia, up and pulled him to safety. Garcia then followed his father back into the house to get his sister, unaware if she was inside the burning building or still at work. Phil Garcia said he narrowly escaped, but said that his son never came out, KRQE News 13 reported.
“I told him to stay out here. I ran inside to check her room. That was a big no-no, I almost got stuck in there. I guess he ran towards the back and the neighbor witnessed him going in and he yelled at him not to go in,” said Phil.
Garcia continued: “He was in the smoke 20-30 minutes,” he said. When firefighters retrieved him, Garcia said “he was pretty much gone,”
According to the Albuquerque Fire Rescue, they were dispatched to the home at Zickert Place near Rio Grande Blvd. and I-40 around 10:58 p.m, KRQE previously reported.
The grief-stricken father said, ”He saved me. “He’s a hero to all of us.”
Garcia was transported to UNM Hospital and was on life support and died two days later. His family granted the young man’s final wishes, which was to donate his organs.
It was a decision the teenager made a few days before his untimely death, his father explained.
“He was getting his license this week, actually Friday, and he wanted to become a donor,” Garcia said. “He asked me about it. I told him, ‘yeah, that’s a great thing.'”
He added: “To make another person have a life, he’s doing it for them,” Garcia said. “I think that’s the ultimate way to go. That’s a true hero.”
On Thursday, family members escorted Xaven Garcia’s body to the operating room at the University of New Mexico (UVM) hospital where his organs will be donated to help save others, KOB4 News reported.
”We’ve never even heard of anything like this, but to see all the doctors, the administration, the nurses, the whole entire wing of the ICU department, it seemed like the whole entire hospital was there,” Garcia said. “And to see that many people lined up on both sides, and then when you looked out the windows, the family and friends, and everybody that was out there, the fire department with flags and ladders. It’s an amazing, amazing thing.”
Gabriel Lovato, one of Garcia’s grandfathers, called his grandson’s final request, a “miracle,” KRQE reported. “I believe in miracles,” Lovato said. “A miracle has taken place tonight.”
New Mexico Donor Services told KOB4 News that Garcia’s organs were able to save at least four lives.
Xaven’s father said that he believes his son’s heart went to Colorado, and his liver went to a 17-year-old boy in New York State, KOB 4 New reported.
“I just hope that whoever the participants are that get my son’s organs, that they really cherish every moment of life they have because he gave his for them,” said Phil Garcia. “Just be blessed. They are so blessed to have what they’re getting. It’s a miracle for them.”
Last week, Susan Garcia, Xaven’s grandmother set up a GoFundMe to help with funeral expenses and repair the badly damaged home.
Susan Garcia described her grandson as “the sweetest kind-hearted respectful young man.”
She said her grandson was a senior at Valley High School and had been involved in USAF ROTC, an altar boy at Mountainair Catholic Church. She said he wanted to be a designer one day.
A candlelight vigil was held at Los Duranes Park. Family members hope that Xaven’s legacy of selflessness will be what people remember him for.
As of Tuesday afternoon, $10,310 has been raised surpassing their initial goal of $8,000.