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Popular Moreno Valley coach and family die in accident and fire on freeway

February 14, 2010 | 11:42 pm

The victims of a freeway crash and fire Saturday were a popular high school coach, his wife and their two small children.

Ryan Villalpando, an assistant football coach at Moreno Valley High, was killed with his wife, Veronica, and their two children when their car became wedged between two trucks and burst into flames.

The accident occurred shortly after noon on the southbound 15 Freeway, south of the Jurupa Street exit, in Ontario, said California Highway Patrol Officer Monica Posada.

The accident became a six-car pileup involving cars and trucks and also resulted in several minor injuries. A photo taken by a witness, and aired on KCAL-TV Channel 9, shows the Villalpandos'  car fully engulfed in flames and wedged between tractor-trailers front and back.

Authorities have not released the victims’ identities, but they have been reported by a local paper and by KCAL.

"He was my offensive line coach,” Moreno Valley High football coach Ted Wadkins told the Riverside Press-Enterprise. “I met him at Cal State San Bernardino, and he was the first guy I hired. He's taught the last five years at Moreno Valley.”

Wadkins said Veronica Villalpando taught at an aerospace school at  Norton Air Force Base.

KCAL aired an interview with Ryan Villalpando’s father, Edward.

He described his son as “honest, had integrity, tough. He had a bark, but he had a heart, a huge heart. He’s going to be missed.”

He said his son was 32 and was going out to get a pizza with his family when the accident occurred.

An investigation into the cause of the accident is underway.

-- Howard Blume