PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Abi Amaro wants her father to be remembered for who he was, not what happened to him.
Divers recovered Antonio Amaro-Lopez’s body from the Columbia River three days after his SUV slid off the Glenn Jackson Bridge during a winter storm.
Family members of the 57-year-old Portland man had suspected the truth of his fate when he abruptly stopped answering their phone calls and text messages on Sunday. They held a candlelight vigil on the beach near the bridge for the second night in a row on Wednesday — the same evening they received confirmation that Antonio had been found.
Portland Police Sergeant Ty Engstrom told KOIN 6 News the accident happened under “extraordinary circumstances.”
“Through the plowing process, a lot of that snow that was on the freeway was pushed off to the side,” said Engstrom. “Unfortunately, you have all that snow packed up there and we had some thawing and refreezing and it made that snowbank pretty hard. Unfortunately, when the vehicle went to that side of the roadway, it was able to just go right up and over the Jersey barrier because of the snowbank.”
Antonio’s daughter, Abi, said her dad had been heading home from work at the family-owned restaurant Amaro’s Table. She said the family had asked him to stay home from work on Sunday due to the severe weather but he promised to be cautious. But Abi didn’t want to dwell on the way her father perished, referring to the horror of the loss as sheer “agony.”
Instead, Abi hopes the memory of who he was as a father and grandfather live on.
“He was a great, great, great father and just a family man through and through,” she told KOIN 6 on Thursday. “Whether it was from our family, extended family or close friends, he somehow always ended up playing this fatherly figure that left an impression.”
Abi said her parents had been married for 35 years, having met when they were both just 19. Together, they raised three daughters.
“He was always there, listening to me,” recalled Abi. “We were a handful for sure but he was the most patient man.”
Antonio also leaves behind three young grandchildren.
“He was a very involved granddad, he loved his grandchildren — truly, truly loved them,” said Abi. “It’s sad, but at the same time, we appreciate the time he did have with them. We just wish it had been longer.”