Guilt, shame, and loss

Is life worth living after such a tragedy? A family tries to keep going after the death of their son

Chris Smith / The Valley Chronicle
The little bike that Baby Anthony was learning to ride is a stark reminder of his absence from the familya��s yard. Pictured also is the driveway where he was fatally struck by his fathera��s truck.

a�� By Chris Smith / Advisory Editor

Sometimes things happen in life a�� very bad things with no silver lining a�� and you question whether ita��s even worth going on, whether ita��s worth continuing to struggle each day to survive.
Thata��s the depth of Eduardoa��s heartache. a�?Why?a�? He asks himself every hour of every day. a�?Why? Why?a�?
The guilt, the shame a�� the loss. The hole in his heart that you could drive a truck through. No, not a truck. Dona��t mention truck. The truck is gone, and good riddance. Gave it away. Wants nothing more to do with that truck a�� ever again.
Too late
You see, it was that truck he was driving when it happned. When he heard his son cry out a�� Daddy, Daddy! He jammed on the brakes. Too late. Little Anthony was down. Behind the truck.
Injured, yes, but still breathing! But alas, not for long. Little Anthony Carreon, the one they called a�?Handsomea�? would be dead within 15 minutes. No ambulance, no hospital, no doctors, no amount of rushing around to save him would work. His injuries were too serious, and he would die.
That moment changed the lives of Eduardo and Jessica Carreon forever. Life from here on out will be different. And sadder. Much, much sadder. Little Anthony is gone. Killed in his own driveway by his own fathera��s truck.
a�?I cana��t believe it,a�? Eduardo tells The Valley Chronicle. a�?He was right there, in the front yard, playing with his cousins. The next minute…a�?, and Eduardoa��s voice trails off as if his mind is so repulsed by the pictured image that words cannot describe it.
a�?I always would walk a 360 around the truck before I got in just to make sure none of the kids were in the driveway. I dona��t understand how it could happen. Why him? Why, why him?a�?

Courtesy the Carreon family and
Anthony Carreon died after he was hit by a truck driven by his father.

A date to remember a�� or forget
Baby Anthony died Feb. 11 shortly after the 3:45 p.m. accident that occurred in the driveway of the familya��s apartment at 385 E. Third St. in San Jacinto. The community has shown an outpouring of love and shared in the familya��s grief since the tragedy.
a�?People saw the article in the paper and have come by in droves,a�? says Eduardo. a�?It means so much to us to have people reach out and share in our sorrow. My wife is so grateful for everyonea��s support.a�?
Baby Anthony was just 16 months old, but already he was starting to talk. His smile, his enthusiasm for life, his love for his dad were infectious. He was the apple of his grandmother, Luza��s, eye. Everytime she saw him she would take his picture, enlarge it, and hang it on the wall.
The Carreons have a big family, and many of them live together in the same group of apartments. There is a common driveway to a number of units that face the street and others that must be accessed at the rear. The small yard in front is where Anthony and his cousins were playing a�� right next to the common driveway serving multiple housing units.

Economic disparities
Unlike expensive apartment complexes in Orange County where developers provide playgrounds for young children so they can swing and rock up and down on see-saws without fear of crossing paths with a car, in Americaa��s less affluent neighborhoods, kids are lucky if they have any grass at all to play on. Often as not, they play in the street. Parks are nice – if they arena��t infested with drug users – but what working mother has time to stand there and wait for her children to become tired?
So that little yard was Baby Anthonya��s safe space, where he frolicked and played with his older cousins, smiled and shouted. And if he were good, he could ride his little bicycle around the driveway, but only when someone could spot for cars, the hazard of bicyclists around the globe. When you weigh a little over 20 pounds and measure around 30 inches, youa��re little more than a mouse compared to a 4,000-pound truck.
a�?He was so little that there were hardly any ashes,a�? says his father with amazemnt about his sona��s cremated remains. a�?I wish we could give all his relatives a little part of him – but there isna��t enough!a�? He says his wife has proposed moving from their apartment to erase the horrible memories. a�?But if we did, it would be like leaving him behind,a�? laments Eduardo.

Chris Smith / The Valley Chronicle
The temporary memorial shrine the family set up to honor the loss of Baby Anthony.

A makeshift shrine
Passing by the familya��s home last week, it was clear which residence was celebrating the life of a loved one. There was a makeshift shrine and memorial set up in the garden next to the familya��s apartment. Funeral flowers from both St. Anthonya��s Catholic and Hemet United Methodist churches, and balloons starting to lose their helium, fluttered in the wind. Religious candles defined the memorialized area as a large heart-shaped floral wreath let everyone know that this was no birthday party despite the coincidence of an ice cream truck passing the house ringing its upbeat bell.
Eduardo couldn a�?t help but think of his late father, Anthony, after whom Baby Anthony was named. The boy looked just like his granddad, and he died almost six years to the day after his grandfather passed. Ironically, Eduardo almost joined his father last year when he was admitted to Loma Linda Medical Center with life-threatening bleeding ulcers. Hea��s still not well enough to work, but hea��s started to gain weight. He cana��t help but wonder a�� if he had died, would his son have lived? A strange question, but not so strange for someone who is demonstrably puzzled by the irony of life and the finality of death.
Would he trade Baby Anthonya��s life for his? If only he could. A fathera��s love is as strong as his heart. And for someone with a big heart like Eduardo, having the weight of your sona��s death on your shoulders is a heavy burden indeed.
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