PUEBLO, Colo. (KXRM) — Lafollette Henderson was doing what he loved and what he told his kids was “vacation.” On Oct. 15, Henderson was killed while driving a semitruck along Interstate 25 north of Pueblo when a train derailed on the bridge above.
The 60-year-old truck driver was from Compton, California, and his family confirmed with FOX31’s sister station FOX21, he had just beaten cancer.
Loved ones said Henderson’s nickname was “Ace.”
“He was the man, that’s why they call him ‘Ace,'” said Katrina Jordan, who was formerly married to Henderson and now a good friend. “Number one, ain’t nothing better than him. He could sell ice cubes to an Eskimo. He was that guy, large in life, and it seems that he’s large in death also.”
His family is now left in shock as they are coming to terms with the loss of a man they describe as larger than life.
“He was such a man of love, my daddy,” Henderson’s daughter, Chazmin Jordan, said. “This is a tragedy, nobody prepares for this. We talk about the risk on the road for other drivers, but we don’t ever consider the damage that can be done to a rig.”
Katrina shared the challenge she is now facing by staying strong for her children while her heart is breaking.
“It just sucks because I don’t know how to play these cards,” Katrina said. “I’m trying to help the kids, but I don’t know how to help them because my heart is breaking. I spent a lot of years with that man, we’ve been together as a family unit for 32 years. So, I mean, I know no other way, but to try to help them, I have to help them.”
Henderson’s son, Tyriece Henderson, choked up when sharing his last memory of his father. Tyriece would have no idea this would be a final farewell phone call.
“Whenever we’re about to get off the phone, whoever says, ‘I love you more than that’ first hangs up. They win,” Tyriece said. “The last day, the last time I talked to him was the day he died. He said, ‘Alright son, I’ll talk to you later, I’m about to make it to Colorado.’ I’m like ‘Alright Dad, I love you.’ And he’s like, ‘I love you, too.’ I’m like, “I love you more than that,’ and then hung up. Then three minutes later he called me back, ‘I love you more than that,’ and never answered the phone again. I’m never going to see my dad.”
Tyriece opened up about his faith and how his father was able to bring this bright light in times of darkness.
“My dad was a very holy man, very. He got me closer to my faith,” Tyriece said. “He was getting me through. This year was the hardest year I ever had before he even passed. He was getting me through this entire year.”
Henderson leaves behind a long lineage with six children and more than a dozen grandchildren. While they are grieving now, they will forever have the spirit of “Ace” in their hearts.
“If it wasn’t for him and what he put in us, I think we would be falling apart,” Chazmin said. “Although we grieve because we love him, we’re OK. We’re going to be OK. We’re going to band together and be tighter than ever.”
When talking about work, Henderson made it clear to his family that it was something he loved to do.
“He would say that’s vacation, I’m on vacation,” Tyriece said. “I love it out here, I get to see new things.”
While Henderson’s family lives in California, Katrina shared the immense love she feels miles away.
“They’ve been reaching out,” Katrina said. “So many people from Colorado. ‘Hey, you don’t know me, but I just want to let you know my family is praying for you and your family in this time of need,’ and it just really blows me away the generosity of these people, they just constantly send messages and hope and prayers.”
One of his daughters created a fundraiser to help support legal fees and funeral expenses. The family is asking for both donations and prayers during this time of tragedy.
“I think sending a lot of prayers would definitely be the biggest one,” Tyriece said. “GoFundMe as well so we can bury my dad the right way and condolences to the rest of our family members. I think more people should probably send condolences to my granny.”