Kevin Abeyta, a lifelong Durango resident and co-owner of a Mexican restaurant that opened earlier this year in the Main Mall, died in Wednesday’s apartment complex fire, authorities confirmed Thursday.
Abeyta, 24, attended Durango High School and Southwest Colorado Community College. He worked at Albertsons before recently opening Los Amigos Del Sur in the Main Mall with three co-owners.
Abeyta lived at Tercero Townhouse, 2123 West Third Ave., with his husband, Tonny Del Solar.
Del Solar said he was too upset to speak with The Durango Herald, but he asked Joanna Atencio, a family friend, to speak on his behalf.
According to Atencio, Del Solar woke up to the fire, grabbed Abeyta by the hand and said, “We’ve got to go. There’s a fire!”
They went down a flight of stairs and had exited when Abeyta said, “No, the children. The kids are in there,” referring to children staying in the unit.
Abeyta ran back inside and never re-emerged, Atencio said.
Atencio and family members described Abeyta as a “generous soul,” willing to give the shirt off his back to someone struggling or money to children in need.
“It just breaks my heart,” Atencio said. “He’s just amazing. He went back in for those kids, and Tonny wants people to know that.”
Abeyta and Del Solar have been together about four years. A family member said they recently went to Las Vegas to get married. Abeyta has a large family and a lot of friends who live in the area, they said.
“He was just a sweetheart,” said Vangie Montoya, his great aunt. “We all loved him to pieces. We don’t get together a whole lot, but we’re always there for one another.”
Abeyta’s body was removed from the building Wednesday morning.
Abeyta’s family and friends gathered Wednesday at Needham Elementary School, where the Southwest Chapter of the American Red Cross provided services and hotel vouchers to residents displaced by the fire.