Man arrested for speeding in crash that killed pastor’s daughter

Rebekah “Bekah” Zarco
Rebekah “Bekah” Zarco | Screenshot/Gofundme

A Virginia man has been charged with involuntary manslaughter for a fatal high-speed collision that led to the death of a pastor’s 17-year-old daughter and critically injured three teenagers. The suspect was driving at almost double the speed limit when the accident occurred, officials said.

Jose Angel Zelaya of Burke, Virginia, was arrested in connection with the crash that claimed the life of 17-year-old Rebekah “Bekah” Zarco, Daily Voice reported. The accident, which happened on Burke Center Parkway last month, also critically injured Bekah’s brother David, a talented soccer player, and two other teens.

The accident occurred after an evening prayer service at a local church, Church Leaders reported. The group of four teens was intending to go eat when their car collided head-on with another vehicle, driven by Zelaya. Onlookers tried to rescue the teens from their burning car before firefighters arrived on the scene.

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Bekah, who was driving, was pronounced dead at the scene. The condition of the driver of the other vehicle, Zelaya, remains unknown.

According to a GoFundMe page, one of the injured teens, Liam Ellsworth, is also recovering in the Intensive Care Unit.

Henry Zarco, uncle to the deceased and her brother, placed a stuffed bear, flowers and a balloon near the scene of the crash. “She always liked stuffed animals. Thought I would bring her one,” he told NBC Washington. “I mean, she always had a smile on her face, and that’s the image that I have in my head. She gave her all. She gave her life to God and served. And it’s just the hardest thing ever, you know. I just don’t understand why.”

Bekah had recently graduated from Robinson Secondary School and was planning to start her freshman year as an engineering student at George Mason University in the fall.

In addition to the arrest, the tragedy has sparked a significant community response. By Thursday, the GoFundMe campaign for the Zarco family had raised nearly $82,000.

Zarco said his nephew, David, is “fighting for his life” and asked for prayers for his family.

The police are continuing their investigation, with speed believed to be a crucial factor in the crash, according to Fairfax County Police Department’s spokesperson Lt. James Curry.

The GoFundMe campaign set up by the Zarco family in memory of Bekah provides a glimpse into the impact of this tragic event. “Rebekah's beautiful soul and kind nature touched everyone she encountered, and her absence will be deeply felt. The grieving process has been made even more challenging for us as her younger brother, David, a talented soccer player and musician himself, and his two friends, remain in the ICU.”

The Zarco family expressed their gratitude for the outpouring of love, prayers and support, calling for continued support and prayers during this challenging time.

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