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Friday, November 15, 2013 - 8:20pm
El Paso, TX (KDBC) — UTEP's cheerleading team is known for it's energy out on the court but on Friday night, they're rallying behind the family of a young man killed a tragic car crash.
Twenty-nine year old Gabriel Morales died early Thursday morning in a wrong way, head-on crash on I-10.
Local4News has learned that Gabriel Morales used to be a UTEP cheerleader.
Although it's been almost 10 years since Morales was a member of the team, his former coach and good friend David Vasquez says the talented and charismatic Morales will never be forgotten among the cheerleading alumni.
According to Coach Vasquez, Morales joined the UTEP cheerleading team back in 2004 after he graduated from Mountain View High School.
Morales had been on the team less than a year when he decided to leave UTEP for cosmetology school.
But Coach Vasquez says Morales kept in touch and remained close with many of his fellow cheerleaders.
He says Morales was a cheerful and outgoing guy who everyone loved to be around.
Loved ones were devastated when they found out he had died in a car accident.
"It's kind of disbelief at first and then it's shock and then you still don't want to believe it to this day. His memory will always be alive in our hearts because he was that kind of person. We have so many great memories of him. I mean, just watching videos and looking at pictures of him, just flashbacks of good times," said Coach Vasquez.
Police say the driver that hit Morales may have been drinking, and could be charged with intoxication manslaughter, pending the results of a toxicology report.
The driver's name has not been released.
Meanwhile, Coach Vasquez says former members of the UTEP cheer team were planning an alumni reunion before the accident happened but decided to turn it into a tribute for Gabriel and fundraiser for his family instead.
The event is open to the public and will be held at Corner Tavern & Grill on 2700 N. Mesa at 10 p.m. on Friday.