Kevin Abeyta, a life-long Durango man and co-owner of a Mexican restaurant that opened earlier this year in the Main Mall, died in Wednesday’s apartment complex fire, according to family and friends gathered at Needham Elementary School.
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 other co-owners.
Abeyta lived at Tercero Townhouse, 2123 West Third Ave., with his husband, Tonny Del Solar.
Del Solar said he was too upset Wednesday 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 in another unit.
Abeyta ran into the unit and never re-emerged, Atencio said.
Atencio and family 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 Sur have been together about four years. A family member said they recently went to Las Vegas to get married. He 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 family and friends gathered Wednesday at Needham Elementary School, where Southwest Chapter of the American Red Cross provided services and hotel vouchers to residents displaced by the fire.
The body was removed from the building Wednesday morning and an autopsy is schedule for 9 a.m. Thursday, when authorities said they expect to formally identify the man.