Drag racing crash kills Metairie man

Rafael Canessa Sr.,70.
Rafael Canessa Sr.,70.
Updated: Sep. 12, 2018 at 3:59 PM CDT
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METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) - A 70-year-old Metairie man was killed right in front of the business he owned, and State Police say a drag-racing crash is to blame.

It happened Tuesday just after noon on Airline Highway near Grand Drive.

“He was a wonderful man, just always wanted to help somebody,” said the victim’s daughter, Elizabeth Canessa Norton.

Rafael Canessa’s family is trying to make sense of what happened.

“He was here moving furniture because he found. He was so excited because he picked up some free furniture on the side of the road. That was something he always did. Him and my older brother, they were here going to drop off the furniture when the car got impatient and went around on this medium part and slammed right into him,” said Canessa Norton.

Canessa was sitting in his truck right in front of the antique store he owned when that happened. State Police say 18-year-old Jordan Marchese was drag racing when he lost control of the Mustang he was driving, hit a curb, and then Canessa’s Toyota Tundra. State Police say the force of the wreck caused both vehicles to travel 80 feet before coming to a stop. Canessa was taken to the hospital, but it was too late.

“He was a blessing to many of us, you know? I think back to a lot of moments lately, with him not here my mind is still trying to wrap around that he’s not here, because I was expecting to have him longer, for him to see my daughter get married,” said Canessa Norton.

Canessa’s son was also injured in the crash.

“My brother was in the car. He’s in the hospital, University, with three fractured ribs, broken leg and a ripped spleen, and they may have to do surgery on him,” said Canessa Norton.

Canessa’s family will remember him as a loving father and grandfather.

“He had a gift to make people laugh and smile and really outgoing, and when you walked up to him he was just really jovial,” said Canessa’s son-in-law, Richard Norton.

“He was a really kind and loving man. I just wish that I had a little bit more time with him,” said Canessa’s grandson, Christian Canessa.

“He was always such a great grandfather, he always put us first even though he didn’t always have the money, he would always make the time and effort to just have fun with us all the time,” said Canessa’s granddaugher, Carlie Canessa.

It’s a devastating loss for a family that loved Canessa so much.

“I feel like it was an accident that could have been avoided. At first I was angry and I told my husband am I wrong for being angry you know, I said I’m angry but I’m hurt and I’m crushed and I came to a place of I forgive him because I have to for me and I hope he comes to a place of making things right because he has to live with this tragedy,” said Canessa Norton.

Marchese was taken to the hospital in serious condition. State Police say the crash is still under investigation and criminal charges are pending.

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