Mario was one of our kids
We write on behalf of the greater Truckee community to express our great sadness and grief to Mario and Lilia Zarate, the parents of little 4-year-old Mario Zarate, killed in front of his home and family on July 10 at Donner Creek Mobile Home Park. Mario was killed when he was hit by a truck, driven through the park on the narrow, winding roads that circle around the trailers. These roads are also the de facto play area for hundreds of children living in the park. On hot summer days and evenings, everyone escapes from hot metal trailers to relax and play outside. Mario’s father was outside close by his son when the truck ran him over. Mario was one of our kids. Only three weeks ago, we watched Mario don his red cap and gown and join 27 little classmates proudly graduating from the Truckee State Preschool. Mario’s mom and dad and 7-month-old brother were at the gala celebration at Regional Park dressed in their finest as they stepped up as a family to receive Mario’s diploma. We also presented him with a graduation gift, a brand new Truckee Elementary sweatshirt. Mario and his friends couldn’t wait to begin their new adventure in the fall as kindergartners. Now, Mario’s friends will be starting school without him and his family will endure the terrible pain of losing a beloved child.While the details of the accident are being investigated, certain things are clear. There are hundreds of kids in Donner Creek Mobile Home Park and there is no adequate, safe place for children to play. The mobile home park sits in a triangle with dangerous borders: On one side is Highway 89, on another is West River Street, and on the third is Donner Creek, itself. The children are truly trapped in this park. While there have been efforts in the past to turn a large vacant “snow storage” area on the southwest corner of the park into a children’s play area, a variety of obstacles has prevented this from happening. Truckee is a big-hearted community that loves and takes care of its kids. We see it in the wonderful spaces we have dedicated to recreation for children: soccer and baseball fields; the swimming pool; tot parks; skateboard park and West End Beach. Truckee, we are asking you to care about children who cannot easily get to these wonderful places.We envision “Mario’s Park.” It’s in Donner Creek Mobile Home Park, on the corner of West River and 89. The families and management of the mobile home park, with help from the community, have created a wonderful play space. There are paved bike ways in an interesting pattern where little kids can ride their Big Wheels and trikes. Parents have brought their deck chairs. They are laughing and watching their kids play under the big trees. We are asking for your help in making this vision a reality. If you would like to help us create “Mario’s Park,” please call the Truckee Family Resource Center at 587-2513Margarita de Nevarez is the director of the Truckee Family Resource Center. Ruth Hall is the Truckee School Readiness coordinator.