Tragedy strikes close to heart of SJVC’s Fresno campus
A recent three-car accident took the life of Natalie Aceves, who graduated from the Surgical Technology program about this time last year. The circumstances of the hit-and-run tragedy are still under investigation, but pale in light of the terrible loss of Natalie’s vibrant life.
She was just a few months pregnant and taking her 11-year-old stepdaughter Jazzy to dance class when a car making an illegal U-turn forced an oncoming vehicle into her path. Many worlds changed in those moments.
What will never change is the image of and experiences so many had with Natalie as they shared classes at SJVC’s Fresno campus with her.
“Natalie made lab class fun!” says Mara Calloway, fellow Surgical Technology classmate. “Even though it was stressful at times, she would come into class with a smile and words of encouragement. She approached her lab runs with confidence and excitement, and we were all influenced by her in a positive way. I knew she was destined for success.”
Right after graduation Natalie went to work for Kaweah Delta Medical Center, her extern site. Unfortunately, her success was far too short-lived.
Her home campus feels the loss. “We’re a large campus, but at the same time we’re a very close campus and get to know our students whether they are in our specific program or not,” says Meggy Anderson, Surgical Technology Program Director. “Our current students are impacted by this; they see how I react.”
Meggy remembers Natalie as “definitely being the life of the party” and someone who had a big personality and an easy laugh. “She was the cheerleader who supported other students.”
Meggy tells of how Natalie’s job at a movie theater allowed her to bring unsold popcorn to campus. “She would drag garbage bags full of leftover popcorn to our office for anybody to come and get some. The office smelled of popcorn all the time. I think of her every time I smell popcorn now.”
Natalie’s generous spirit spilled over to all in her path. “She was an amazing lady with an amazing heart,” says Tiffanie Lovely of her former classmate. “She took on the role of mom at an early age and loved it. She told many stories of her stepdaughter, and I know how proud of her she was.”
Memories of Natalie continue to bubble to the surface with every day that passes.
“What I remember most about Natalie was/is her beautiful smile,” says Mara. “That smile could light up a room! I will also remember how passionately Natalie spoke about her life, her family, and especially Jazzy. She loved that little girl dearly. More recently, Natalie spoke of how excited she was to be expecting a new baby. I told her she would be a great mom, as she already was.”
Jazzy survived the accident but was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.
A memorial was held for Natalie on March 30th at the St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Lemoore.
For those who wish to help Natalie’s family with expenses during this most difficult time, considering donating to their GoFundMe link.