CASPER, Wyo. – A respected NCHS science teacher and his son died on Saturday morning after their vehicle was hit head-on by another vehicle attempting to pass.
According to a report from the Wyoming Highway Patrol, Mauro Diaz of Casper was heading north on U.S. 20 at around 10 a.m. near milepost 121 when an 83-year-old Texas resident driving a 2016 Cadillac Escalade heading south attempted to pass another vehicle. The Escalade then hit the 2014 BMW X-6 Diaz was driving head-on.
The WHP says Diaz was wearing a seatbelt and died at the scene. His son riding in the car was properly restrained and was transferred to Hot Springs Memorial Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.
Driver inattention on the part of the Escalade driver is being investigated as a contributing factor, according to the release.
Mauro was a popular science teacher at NCHS, and his son was a third-grade student at Park Elementary School. A vigil for the Diaz family is scheduled for Monday at 7 p.m. at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.
“Our deepest sympathies, prayers, condolences, and thoughts are with the family, friends, their school families, and the community,” said Natrona County School District spokesperson Tanya Southerland in a message to Oil City News.
According to a profile by the U.S. Department of Education for Hispanic Heritage Month, Mauro immigrated from Juarez, Mexico with his family as a young boy, eventually earning a BA in English at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas. He moved to Wyoming for a job in manufacturing, but strived to find more meaningful work.
“I feel a sense that I need to give back,” Diaz told the Casper Star-Tribune in a 2014 profile. “How do I give back to a country that kind of, basically, adopted me?”
He eventually earned a BS in Biology from the University of Wyoming, and after completing a New York City Teaching Fellows program, he started teaching science at Dean Morgan Junior High in 2005.
Casper resident John Craddock told Oil City News in a message that Mauro was a positive force in his life.
“He knew I didn’t know my real dad, and helped fill that [void] at school,” said Craddock. “He would always check in on me outside and in class.”
“He was one of the best teachers I had,” he added.