When his son was born just over a month ago, Jorge Valencia promised he would work as hard as he could for the betterment of his new family, said his girlfriend Maritza Ortega, mother of their newborn child.
And, up until Monday morning, when he died as a result of injuries suffered in a single-vehicle crash, Valencia was doing just as he had promised, on his way to work in the Santa Clarita Valley when the crash happened.
He always sent a text to Ortega saying he had arrived safely, but on Monday, no such text was sent.
Ortega knew something was wrong when she failed to receive her morning text.
Valencia, 22, having said goodbye to her and their 1-month-old son, Jayden, drove off from the couple’s apartment in Palmdale. Shortly after 6:35 a.m. Monday, Valencia was pronounced dead at the scene of a single-vehicle crash on Bouquet Canyon Road, about a quarter-mile south of the Texas Canyon Ranger Station.
“He wanted to change things,” Ortega said Wednesday, just two days after she lost the love of her life and lost the future the two of them planned.
“He had a lot of goals,” she said. “He did everything for me and the baby.”
Just over a year ago, Ortega was single, so was Valencia. The two did not know each other except for a remote connection on social media.
Then one day around that time, their friends tried to get each of them out of their respective homes to attend a party.
They met at the party, fell in love, moved into a small room in a house and began planning a future. The first stop in their plan was the birth of their son just over a month ago.
“His goal was to get us out of there,” she said. “After the baby was born, he said, ‘I need to step it up.’
“He was a hard worker,” she said.
After the crash, Ortega moved in with her mother.
“I couldn’t be in his (Valencia’s) room,” she said. “Every little thing reminded me of him.”
The outpouring of support for her and the baby has been overwhelming, she said.
Valencia’s coworker Rene Mendez, who started a GoFundMe page to raise money for Valencia’s new family, said the same thing: Valencia was committed to doing the best he could for his family.
“He was very excited to receive his first paycheck,” Mendez said, noting more than $3,100 had been raised as of 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Valencia had worked in construction but just recently started commuting from Palmdale to his new job in Valencia at Novacap.
“Every morning at work he would call his girlfriend and say, ‘I’m here.’ So when she didn’t get that message, she was worried,” Mendez said.
Investigators with the California Highway Patrol said in a news release issued Monday that speed was a factor in the case. Their investigation, however, is continuing.
Valencia “failed to negotiate a curve in the roadway, which caused the silver Toyota to leave the roadway and collide with a dirt embankment,” CHP Officer B. Kovacs wrote in a news release issued Monday.
The online fundraising page started for Valencia can be accessed at https://www.gofundme.com/6r3fu-jorge-valencia.