Agent Francisco Puga, 26, died while driving to work, and the collision is being investigated by California Highway Patrol.
While his family will receive standard insurance benefits, he wasn’t considered on duty at the time of the accident so his wife won’t receive federal compensation provided to fallen agents.
Moving through the red tape of receiving benefits can be slow although funeral services can occur quickly. Puga’s services were over the weekend, and Choir Boys Arizona Chaplain Daniel Hann said the club steps in at times such as this to help families of law enforcement.
Choir Boys is a national nonprofit law enforcement motorcycle club that raises funds year-round to have money in reserves for times of tragedy. Members of the local chapter gave Puga’s widow a $2,500 check Friday.
Lombardo Amaya, union president of National Border Patrol Council Local 2554, said the “Francisco Puga Memorial” account has also been established by NBPC Local 2554 and Cabrillo Credit Union to receive funds.
Amaya recalls Puga from when he first came from the academy, around the station and training days.
“He was a young man that decided to put on the uniform and defend the constitution with his life. He was coming to work to fulfill that commitment that he served, and he was a person that was willing to die for our way of life anytime,” Amaya said. “It’s really sad that someone at that young age is gone. We’re a family and as a family, we feel love for each other, and while we can’t do a lot to make him come back, we can support his family.”
Border Patrol Agent Edward Villegas was friends with Puga since they both entered duty in 2007 and soon realized that their families already knew each other.
“Puga was one of my first friends in Border Patrol,” he said. “We kind of bonded in the academy and were always together.”
He was shocked to hear of Puga’s passing.
“Puga was full of life. I don’t think I’d ever seen him sad or upset, or depressed at any time. He was always making jokes and making people laugh.” Villegas said. “He was a very happy individual … He always had a smile on his face.”
He said that Border Patrol agents and their families often form close bonds with other agents and their families, and those bonds become even more important at times of sorrow like this.
Amaya agreed, stating that agents appreciate when the public “recognizes and values our work and understands that we are human beings with families and ties to the community.”
Those wishing to donate to the account can transfer funds via Cabrillo HomeBanking or mail a check to Cabrillo Credit Union, Attn: Francisco Puga Memorial Account, 10075 Carroll Canyon Road, San Diego, CA 92131.
Visit http://choirboyslemc.org for more information on the Choir Boys law enforcement motorcycle club.
Staff Writer Chelcey Adami can be reached at 760-337-3452 or email@example.com