Victim of Zaon Collins’ crash had ‘heart of gold’ – Las Vegas Review-Journal

Eric Echevarria was a boxer from The Bronx, one of those stereotypical New Yorkers with a tough exterior but a heart of gold. That’s the part family and friends remember most. That and the smile.

Echevarria is gone now, the victim of a fatal car crash involving former UNLV basketball signee Zaon Collins.

The former Bishop Gorman star has been charged with two felonies stemming from the Dec. 30 accident. A Dodge Challenger driven by Collins collided with a car driven by Echevarria near Fort Apache Road and Blue Diamond Road. Echevarria, 52, died later that day.

“Eric had that New York savvy attitude,” said friend Kevin Smith, who knew Echevarria for 20 years and served with him in the Army National Guard. “His heart was so open. When you got to know him, you got to know a very kind and caring individual. He was the most generous person I knew.”

Mike Katz was an associate pastor at Calvary Chapel when first meeting Echevarria and remembers most those times the two spoke after services.

“You don’t always get to meet everyone, especially when it’s a bigger church,” Katz said. “Eric always made it a point to come up and ask different Bible questions. He was very curious and had his own point of view on things. He was inquisitive. I know Eric well enough spiritually that he would have forgiven this young man that hurt him. I believe that in my heart.”

‘Loved life’

Echevarria is survived by his wife, a 14-year-old son, four adult stepchildren and six grandchildren. He served in the Nevada Army National Guard 221st Cavalry and was also with the 32nd MP Division in Henderson.

To those who knew him, nobody was more loyal.

“He would do anything for you,” said Smith. “Eric loved life.

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