Family in mourning over Thanksgiving after Army veteran dies following crash in Northern Arizona

There's an empty seat at the table on Nov. 26 for a Goodyear family, as they mourn the loss of an Army veteran who did not make it home from work, following a car crash.

"He had a specific chair that he sat in that everybody fought him for, so now, that chair's just gonna be empty, and it's just gonna be different and weird," said Jennifer Luna, Daniel Luna's widow.

Loved ones of Daniel never thought he'd pass away at 31, but they're thankful for the time they spent with him.

"Seeing him lay there, like, I just kept waiting for him to open his eyes and wake up. I just keep waiting for him to call me and tell me he's heading home," said Jennifer.

For Jennifer, Daniel's death meant she lost her soulmate. She and Daniel were married more than 10 years ago, and together, they had three kids.

In 2019, Daniel started his own business as a welding service contractor, and on Nov. 18, while on the road for a project in Flagstaff, authorities say Daniel crashed his car into a power pole along Highway 89, near Townsend-Winona Road.

As a result of the crash, Daniel suffered fractures in his neck, as well as major brain trauma. Daniel fought for three days, until his loved ones had to say goodbye.

"For me, I needed that closure to make sure that I gave him some time to make sure I didn't just give up on him," said Jennifer.

Daniel joined the Army right after graduating high school. he served 10 years, including two tours in Afghanistan.

"He was so happy and so excited, and that's all he wanted to do. He really just wanted to join the military, and it was sad. It was really sad because obviously I didn't want him to go and it was hard, but we talked all the time," said Daniel's sister, Elizabeth Canchola.

Military life brought the Lunas to three different states, but home was always in Goodyear, where they returned in 2018 to raise their young family.

Jennifer says she will miss her husband's bright presence.

"That need to make other people happy and laugh and be that light for the room," said Jennifer.

The 2020 holiday season will be a challenge, but for Daniel's family, cherishing his memory comes easy, and he will be missed.

"Really just counting our blessings twice and strengthening our bond as a family and being that support system for [Jennifer] and the kids," said Daniel's brother-in-law, Joel Canchola.

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