Candlelight vigil held for ‘Twinkie’

A candlelight vigil for Jose ‘Twinkie’ Montes, left, was held at Centennial Park on Saturday. He died on Dec. 28 after reportedly trying to stop a drunken driver. (Photo by Brian Williams)

Paso Robles police believe he died while trying to stop woman from drunken driving

PASO ROBLES   More than 200 people stood under a gazebo at Centennial Park Saturday evening as rain fell to remember their son, brother, friend and co-worker — Jose “Twinkie” Montes.

“This is really appreciated, everybody to come over and do this for my son,” said Jose’s father, Armando Montes, standing with his wife Gabriela and their younger son David during a candlelight vigil on Jan. 5. “A lot of people love him. Somebody just told me that he touched a lot of hearts. Because he was kind.”

People milled about looking at family photos of Jose on a table with a big pile of bracelets with “Legends Never Die” printed on them, while others signed a poster board or took part in the buffet dinner. “Legends Never Die” and a photo of Jose also was printed on T-shirts.

During the candlelight vigil, candid photos of Montes with family and friends were projected onto a large screen. People laughed and cried as they were shown.

After the photos were shown, family and friends, one-by-one, spoke to the crowd about the impact the 21-year-old Jose had on their lives.

“I only knew him a short amount of time,” said Keke Ward, who worked with Jose at Santa Maria Brewing in Paso Robles. “He was great. A good kid. He was beautiful.”

Jose’s father Armando also worked at Santa Maria Brewing and was able to get his son a job.

Jose was injured outside of Santa Maria Brewing on Dec. 28 and later died as a result of the injuries.

According to Paso Robles Police Department reports, Jose was fatally injured while trying to stop Stephanie Hale, 21, from drunken driving. He was thrown to the ground as she drove away in her vehicle.

“He went and do whatever he tried to stop her. He lost his life,” Armando said.

Hale was later arrested for drunken driving and hit-and-run, both felonies.

Jose was known for his big smile and willingness to help people.

“What he did, it was heroic,” Ward said. “It was great. Not everybody would do that.”

This is the second tragic loss for the Montes family. Daughter Jeanette Montes, 19, died in a roll-over crash in November of 2013 on Highway 101, just north of Highway 46 West. Jose and David were also in the car but they survived.

They were returning to Paso Robles from Arroyo Grande after seeing family there, Armando said.

“He missed her a lot, tremendously,” Armando said. “They were really close, together all of the time.”

Jose attended Paso Robles schools and went to college in Fresno, but returned to Paso Robles to live with family and regroup.

His parents were proud of the changes he was making and of the man he was becoming.

“We have a good memory of him,” Armando said.

A GoFundMe page was started to raise money for funeral expenses. To donate, visit gofundme.com/montes-family-expenses.

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