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Widow remembers military husband, father killed in Sandy crosswalk

Posted at 5:37 PM, Feb 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-10 01:01:57-05

SANDY, Utah -- Rachel Lavana was house-hunting out of state, preparing to move to a new Army base camp for her husband’s military service when she saw a voicemail on her phone Thursday.

“I need you to give me a call back as soon as possible, there’s been an emergency at your house,” said a Sandy Police Officer. 

Lavana said she’s always expected there could be a phone call about her husband, Major Fernando Lavana, but when she returned the officer’s phone call, she didn’t expect this.

“She said to me, 'are you with family or friends?' I had the most horrible, sinking feeling,” said Lavana. “Why would I need to be with family and friends right now? Everything should be fine right?”

Maj. Lavana died Thursday afternoon when Sandy Police say a driver in a white Toyota Camry struck him inside a crosswalk on Wasatch Boulevard near 104th South. The driver remained at the scene and police say he did not appear to be intoxicated. No charges have been filed.

The couple would have celebrated their first year anniversary in August, the month their blended family came together — making a total of eight kids. 

Lavana kept all of the letters they wrote to each other while they long distance dated. 

“He would always send letters with something about how he appreciates me or loved something about me,” said Lavana.

Maj. Lavana moved to California from Mexico with his family when he was four years old. He studied at UCLA for his undergraduate degree and at Sacramento State University for his master’s degree.

Rachel Lavana said her husband spoke Arabic and Spanish.

Most of all, Lavana said he loved God and his children.

“It feels like he hasn’t left because I feel his presence,” said Lavana.

Family members have set up a GoFundMe for the Lavana’s.