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Partner of 'Good Samaritan' killed after wrong-way driver crash shares his story of selflessness

Posted at 12:33 AM, May 30, 2024

COLORADO SPRINGS — Traci Bennett says her partner, Joel Montalvo, would give you the shirt off his back. The last dollar in his wallet.

"He always tried to do the right thing and he always tried to be an honorable man," said Bennett.

The 64-year-old Navy veteran's life was cut short early Sunday morning. Bennett said he was driving back to their home in Fort Collins after visiting his mom in Arizona for a late Mother's Day celebration. Colorado Springs Police said a wrong-way driver going south in the northbound lanes on I-25 crashed into another vehicle head-on near the MLK Bypass in Colorado Springs early Sunday morning. Police said the driver going the wrong way died of their injuries at the hospital and the other driver was dead at the scene.

Montalvo stopped along I-25 after seeing the crash and got out of his vehicle to help. While crossing the busy interstate, police said he was struck and killed by a car.

Bennett remembers the last phone call she had with her partner of six years.

"I told him that I loved him and I told him that I would see him soon. And then an hour and 15 minutes later he was hit by another vehicle and killed," she said.

Montalvo is now being hailed as the "good Samaritan" whose life tragically ended while trying to help someone else. Bennett said she was not surprised to hear he was trying to lend a hand in his last moments.

"He was just one of the best people you'd ever meet," she said. "He always tried to do right by his friends and his family and his country."

Investigators are still working to determine if drugs or alcohol are considered factors in both crashes. Bennett said no matter what, she hopes sharing Montalvo's story will remind people to slow down and be aware on the roads.

"Paying attention could save somebody's life and could stop somebody from having to be devastated like I am, and having their whole world ripped apart all because something that could've been prevented," she said."
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