Valentine’s Day Without a Valentine

Fernando Aguirre was on his way home to his wife, Dr. Robin Aguirre to celebrate Valentine’s Day with her when everything went horribly wrong.

Trust Misplaced

Long ago, after becoming a citizen of the United States, Fernando trained to be a truck driver. This was his craft. He was good at it. He did it for more than years. In 2015 he started with a new company. He had been training with them for a little while. And on February 12, 2016, on an overnight drive from Canada back to Texas, Fernando finished his 10 hour driving shift. He pulled over to the side of the road to let his trainer take over. He was pretty sleepy so this respite was a welcome one. Normally, not driving while sleepy would be a wise decision. But sadly, on this night, his trust in his trainer was misplaced.

“Fernando was a cautious driver,” his wife Robin recalls. “He would have never fallen asleep if he had known what was in that driver’s system. But he trusted him.”

Fernando crawled into the sleeping compartment of the eighteen-wheeler. He called Robin to tell her he was on his way home and would be there the next evening – just in time for Valentines’ Day. Robin told him to get some good rest. She told him she couldn’t wait to see him. She told him she loved him.

It was the last time she would ever tell him this.

Fernando’s trainer was taking multiple prescribed medications at the time. Although many heavy prescriptions clearly state not to operate heavy machinery, Fernando’s co-driver didn’t follow these warnings. He crashed into three semis parked on the shoulder of the road. The impact killed him and Fernando.

The Knock at the Door

Robin woke up to a loud banging at her door at 6 a.m. on Saturday, February 13. She ran to the door to open it and saw a police officer standing on her doorstep. When she saw his uniform, her mind reeled with what a police officer could want with her at this time of the morning.

“He told me Fernando had been killed in South Dakota at 10:30 p.m. the night before,” Robin remembers. “It took me a while to process what he was saying because I had spoken to my husband around 8 p.m.”

Fernando had been killed two and a half hours after they said goodbye for the last time.

Robin has spent the last two Valentines’ Days and all the days in between walking through this painful season. Her daughter moved from St. Louis to Houston to help her through this time. She’s currently taking a break from work.

“To this day, when the doorbell rings or hear a tap at the door, my reaction is to jump,” Robin says. “My front door is a constant reminder of my husband’s senseless death and how I was notified.”

Robin has spoken for MADD’s Victim Impact Panels in Houston on multiple occasions. And she wants to get back to speaking eventually. By speaking at these panels, she knows she is empowered to take this tragedy and change lives because of it.

“I hope my husband’s story will have an impact,” Robin says. “Drugged driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving…it takes a lot of lives and changes even more.”