By Karl Terry, PNT Managing Editor
Their lives ended at a tender age, but two Portales elementary school students will continue to be remembered thanks to the efforts of police and firemen.
Friday Portales Fire Department and Portales Police Department members presented memorial benches in honor of Mireya Rascon and Lorenzo “Lenchito” Cabral Jr. to school officials and the children’s families. The benches will reside at James School where Mireya was a student and Steiner where Lorenzo attended school.
“It was just a way to continue the memory of both of these kids,” PFD Battalion Chief Lance Hill said.
Mireya, age 7, died in August 2006 after being struck by a car while crossing the Arch Highway east of Portales.
Police say 6-year-old Lorenzo died at the hands of his mother, Teresa Gilman, from trauma to the head and possibly having water forced into his lungs, in January 2007. Court affidavits say Gilman, who was under the influence of drugs, believed her son was possessed by the devil.
After public safety officials presented the benches, Steiner Principal Becky Flen addressed the families of the two children saying that the benches would be kept inside the halls of the two schools so they would stay nice for years and serve as a way for other students to remember their classmates.
“They’re there anytime you want to sit on them,” Flen told the family members. “They are there, and we might even sit down next to you and give you a hug.”
The money for the benches was raised through a charity basketball game shortly after Lorenzo’s death, dubbed Guns and Hoses pitting the police and fire departments against each other. Officials said they wanted to hold the game to give closure to the departments and the community after the death and to be able to do something at the school as a memorial.
“There really doesn’t ever become a closure on these kinds of things,” said PPD Capt. Lonnie Berry. “Lorenzo (Cabral Sr.) and I have spent a lot of time together. There’s a lot to go through to process it out.
Berry said his memory of Lorenzo Jr. is of a picture of him in his soccer uniform. He says he uses the photo in a slideshow he presents about the dangers of methamphetamine as an example of how lives can be affected.
Lorenzo Cabral Sr. was grateful for the effort.
“I just want to thank them,” Cabral said of the firemen, police officers and school officials. “It’s something cool they’ve done.
Cabral said he still struggles with his son’s death but lots of people have helped his family cope.
“It’s not easy, but it’s something you have to deal with,” Cabral said. “The teachers — everybody has been real helpful.”