OTHELLO — It was only a few years ago that Noe De Jesus Diaz Interiano traveled to Central Washington from the small village of Torola, in the Morazán department of El Salvador, a rural collection of stucco houses hidden amid the mountainous jungle.
Diaz traveled almost 4,000 miles with a family member to the arid scrubland of the Columbia Basin, leaving his parents behind so he could escape poverty and gang violence and instead seek an education. On Dec. 10, he died 14 miles west of Othello in a car accident on state Route 26. He was 19.
Formerly a resident of Okanogan, Diaz had recently moved to Othello. He was a senior at Othello High School, described by friends and family as a dedicated student and thoughtful individual who was eager to share his mind with anyone willing to listen. He was due to graduate at the end of May.
His sister Glenda said that he was in the middle of shopping for graduation clothes when he died. After high school, he hoped to join the U.S. Army.
Now, unable to pursue the future in the United States that his parents wanted for him, his family is trying to raise funds to send his body back to El Salvador, where he will be buried with his father, mother and brother, who have since passed away. A GoFundMe page to fund Diaz’s transportation has been set up by Isidro Vargas, a friend who met Diaz through Iglesia Jesus Salva, a church in Othello.
To Vargas and others at the church, Diaz was the image of perseverance, having left his country due to circumstances out of his control, and struggling at times with new schools and a new language, Vargas said.
“He was someone who always wanted to persevere regardless of all the circumstances going on around him and he always had a good outlook in life,” Vargas said. “Losing someone like that, I know that it affects a lot of people in the community and his high school.”
Donations may be made at www.gofundme.com/help-send-noe-diaz-interiano-back-to-el-salvador.
Columbia Basin Media Group advertising representative Richard Garcia provided interpretation for this article.