Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal
In the 25 days since her 6-year-old son’s death, Antoinette Suina has found little piles of rocks he collected and stashed in corners of the house, in his pockets and with his toys.
“He loved and was really interested in rocks and geodes,” Suina said. “His science project for school was on geodes, and he was interested in crystals and minerals, so I find myself attracted to those things now.”
In an interview with the Journal on Friday, Suina said her memories of Joel Anthony Suina, whom she calls Anthony, are still very much alive and she wants to tell the world about her little boy. She also wrote a letter that is published below.
Suina and her two children were in their SUV when it was hit by a police cruiser driven by an Albuquerque Police Department officer; Anthony was taken off life support and died a couple of days afterward. Suina’s daughter, 9-year-old Ariana Suina, had broken bones and underwent surgery. She was released from the hospital a couple of weeks ago.
“We talk about Anthony every day,” Suina said. “I thank God I have so many pictures and memories of our travels.”
She said her son, who loved sports and superheroes, “was such a boy.”
Suina said her two children were best friends and did everything together, with Anthony always following his sister’s lead.
“Our lives drastically changed and are going to be changed forever,” she said. “I’m trusting God to get us through each and every day. I put my faith in that.”
Last week, Suina’s lawyer, Geoffrey Romero, filed a petition as a first step to determine whether she will take legal action in connection with her son’s death. It asked for a personal representative to be appointed in a wrongful death estate to investigate the facts and circumstances of the crash.
On April 17, Suina, a single mother, had picked her children up after getting off work, and they were on the way to a toy store.
Police say officer Johnathan McDonnell was responding to a call about a teenager armed with a machete at a Northeast Heights grocery store.
He was heading north on Eubank with his emergency lights on when Suina turned left through the intersection in front of him onto Indian School NE.
That’s when Suina’s car was hit and sent spinning into a pole. The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department investigated the crash and has not released its report.
McDonnell, a nine-year veteran of APD, had been disciplined five times for preventable crashes and once for an unauthorized pursuit before the evening of the fatal crash.
He did not respond to requests for an interview left with an APD spokeswoman.
Suina’s lawyer, Romero, instructed her not to discuss any specifics of the crash or the injuries she, her daughter and her son suffered.
But she did want to talk about her heartbreak in the period that has followed and her gratitude for the support of friends and family and the community.
Anthony was cremated on Suina’s 31st birthday. And friends and family have been driving her around, since her car was totaled in the crash.
She said teachers and staff at Inez Elementary School, where her son attended first grade, have been a huge help.
Suina and her daughter have been staying with her mother, and although she has gone to her own house a couple of times since the crash, she said they’ve been working up to spending the night in the home where Anthony had been growing up.
Suina said after Anthony was taken off life support, the family donated his organs. She said it was exactly the kind of thing he would want them to do, since he was always wanting to help others.
“He made me look like a good mom, because he was such a good boy, he was such an easy kid to raise,” Suina said. “He was a special kid. He was a blessing, and I thank God I was able to be his mom.”