Stranger surprises woman who lost Marine son to suicide with car

By Amy Mariani, Reporter
Last Updated: Sunday, July 31, 2016, 6:42 PM EDT

A Bay area man watched his neighbor walk to work every day for weeks and decided to help her out.

  • Richard Newberry surprised Ernestina Nuñez with a car
  • Nuñez walked to work every day, didn't own car
  • Nuñez lost Marine son to suicide at age 33

Richard Newberry owns Spooners Tire and Auto in Pinellas Park. He would see Ernestina Nuñez walking to Dixie Hollins High, where she works as a custodian.

“On Friday I saw her walk by and she didn’t look like a happy person, so I said, 'let me talk and say hi' because I at least see her everyday walking by,” Newberry said.

He and Nuñez struck up a conversation. He learned that she doesn’t own a car and rents a room nearby. She has no family in the area. The death of her son weighed heavy on her heart.

“She started telling me her story with her son and how’s she’s walking to work every day,” Newberry said. “It just kind of touched me.”

Newberry had a car in his shop he recently fixed up and he wanted to give it to Nuñez. He shared the moment in a Facebook Live video. As he tries to give her the key, Nuñez shakes her head 'no.' She said she couldn’t believe it.

“I’m still kind of in a daze,” she said.

She couldn’t believe a man she just recently met would be so generous, especially after dealing with the worst tragedy imaginable for a mother.


Daniel Alexander Nuñez, a Marine, was only 33 years old when his mother says he committed suicide.

“My son, who was a former Marine, committed suicide about 13 months ago,” she said. Daniel Alexander Nuñez was 33 years old.

“He fought a war and he brought that on his shoulder and I guess he could never shake that off and eventually it took him,” she said. “Even so, I try my best to let him know that he went and did a job, a job well done, and to let it go. But eventually he did not. And he left me all alone.”

Newberry knows he can never mend the hole left by her son’s death, but he hopes this act gives her hope. He knows what it means to lend a helping hand.

“I’ve struggled,” he said. “I’ve got to where I am today because of help and that’s why I thought I should help.”

Newberry has had a troubled past and was homeless a few times, before getting back on his feet and starting his own business.

“She needed to have more,” he said. “So maybe helping her out and a way to get to and from work is the reason to have hope in life and not give up.”


Richard Newberry, who owns Spooners Tire and Auto in Pinellas Park, surprised Ernestina Nunez with a car after finding out her story one day.

Nuñez carries the pain of her son’s suicide every day. She has his old cell phone and only turns it on to look at pictures of him. She hopes by sharing her pain, she can prevent other veteran suicide.

“They don’t have to take that route,” she said. “There are people who love them and they will suffer.”

The pain isn’t gone – but her heart is a little lighter, knowing she has a friend in Newberry and an easier, safer way to get around.

“We did it for each other,” she said.

“Yes, we did,” he said, hugging her.

Newberry is raising money to help Nuñez with car insurance and gas. He gave her a $300 check from Pros Elite Group, a local business.

He also set up a GoFundMe (https://www.gofundme.com/2hbkvvek) page to help her out.

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