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Family, friends remember jokester and auto enthusiast Erick Fuentes

“He wanted to open up his own shop, build his own cars.”

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WORTHINGTON — A charismatic jokester with a contagious smile and a deep love for cars, Erick Eduardo Fuentes Cervantes, 19, died Wednesday, July 6, 2022, in a crash that also injured seven others.

The Worthington community remembers Albert Matthiesen.

“He was an extraordinary kid. He was one-of-a-kind,” said Clara Fuentes, Erick’s older sister. “As he got older, he became more independent, but he was always there for his family and his friends. He was always the type of person who was friendly to everyone who met him — if you met him, you loved him.”

Erick had just graduated from high school in May, said Doug Brands, principal at the Learning Center.

Brands recalled Erick as a young man who gained energy and enthusiasm from being around other people, and enjoyed being part of a community. Like his fellow students, Erick’s learning experience was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but he didn’t let the disruptions prevent him from reaching his objective.

“He had his goal, he wanted to graduate, he put in his work and he passed his classes, and he was still just a little bit short and that’s why he came back,” Brands explained, noting Erick had been at the LC for the second half of his senior year, plus one more quarter to finish up.

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Once he found his focus and his direction, Brands said, Erick became more serious about his academic career, as he had been accepted at a mechanics’ school in Chicago.

“He wanted to open up his own shop, build his own cars,” said Jorge Fuentes, Erick’s brother, who remembered his sibling adoring the “Fast and the Furious” series of movies and Pixar’s “Cars.”

“He loved to work on his cars, he was such a fanatic for cars,” Clara said. “His ultimate dream was to own his own shop so he could be his own boss, and do what he loved.”

“She always had a smile for people, whoever and wherever she ran into them.”

Their father, Juan Fuentes, is a mechanic and an innovator, and Erick inherited that too, always inventing, creating and adding his own flair into whatever he did, she shared. He was great at math, and seemed to do it effortlessly; as a child he was a dancer, a comedian, a soccer player — “If he could try it, he’d be so good at it, anything he did.”

Erick loved to tease people, and expected to be teased in return, all in good fun, Clara said.

He was easy to talk to too, said Erick Rivera, one of his friends, who said he felt like he missed out on an opportunity to be closer to him.

“Knowing that someone you know is just gone, like that — it still feels kind of hard to believe,” Rivera added.

“He was my younger brother, but when I looked at him, I was inspired by who he became,” Jorge said, describing Erick as the “sunlight” of the family. “He always inspired me to become better.”

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Clara said people who knew him miss everything about him.

“The house is pretty silent without him,” she said. “He was the entertainer, the light.”

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A 1999 graduate of Jackson County Central and a 2003 graduate of Augsburg College, Kari Lucin started writing for newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota in 2006. During her time as a reporter, she covered beats including education, watershed, county and agriculture, and frequently wrote about health and science. She has also served as an online content coordinator and an engagement specialist at various Forum Communications properties. She was a marketing assistant at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville for two years, where she did design work in addition to writing and social media management.

Lucin is currently a community editor with the Globe of Worthington.

Email: klucin@dglobe.com
Phone: (507) 376-7319
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