1 year after Metrolink crash, family mourns

first_imgSIMI VALLEY – For 23 years, James P. Tutino was a tough cop with a soft side. “When he had to be tough, he was tough, but he was a softy at heart,” said his widow, Rita Tutino. On Thursday, “Jim” will be remembered as one of 11 passengers killed in the Jan. 26 Metrolink crash in Glendale. With the one-year anniversary of his death approaching, his family members are trying to piece their lives back together and recover from the loss. Their struggle is far from over. “Our family chain is broken,” said Tutino’s mother, Maureen. “With time, it will relink again.” “Jim would be the first person to say, ‘Let it go. Move on,”‘ she said. “That’s what we’re hoping to do.” Tutino was many things to many people. By day, he was a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy at the Men’s Central Jail, helping inmates turn their lives around. Out of uniform, he was the assistant football coach at Simi Valley High School, inspiring young athletes. “He always had more energy than almost every other kid in the program,” said Rob Fierro, 18, a former Simi Valley High football player. “They’d come in dragging and laid back and he’d come in jumping, all excited.” Coach, as he was known to the team, wanted to help young athletes with their personal development and wanted them to understand it was important to push themselves to the limit, whether they won or not, Fierro said. Tutino was kind-hearted and compassionate, a quiet and unassuming man who touched a lot of lives, including inmates who called or wrote letters expressing their condolences after he died. “He’s one of those guys who was unique, hard to replace,” said his younger brother, Tony, a Ventura County sheriff’s deputy. “He’s always been one of those guys that tried to help. My mom would call him her white knight.” To ensure his memory lives on, the family established a scholarship fund in his name to support college education. For more information on the fund, log on go to www.jimtutino.com. “The foundation has provided a sense of worthiness for all of us that Jim will be remembered – as a husband, a father, a brother, a son, a deputy, a coach and friend to all who knew him,” his sister said. The family awarded six scholarships to Simi Valley students last year and is gearing up for another fundraiser. Still, one year later, they have more questions than answers. They especially wonder what would have happened had Alvarez asked for help before he did what he did. “Jim would have been the first one that would have been helping him resolve the problem,” his mother said. “He would have tried to get him help and do whatever it took.” Angie Valencia-Martinez, (805) 583-7604 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card The crash occurred when Juan Manuel Alvarez parked his sport-utility vehicle on the tracks in an alleged aborted suicide attempt, causing a chain-reaction crash and forever altering lives. “I just can’t believe a year has passed,” Tutino’s widow said. “Life has gone on and people have forgotten about the crash, but to me it’s still fresh.” Tutino, 47, embodied the humanitarian spirit and treated everyone with respect, loved ones said. The eldest of three siblings, he displayed quiet confidence and led by example. The last several months have been especially hard for the family because he wasn’t there during important events – his parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, his son’s college graduation and his son’s wedding. Some days, family members cope better than others, said his sister, Jill Tutino Kurz. last_img read more