Xavier Garcia

Xavier Garcia has helped Marion County police agencies out on numerous occasions over the past dozen years. His knowledge of the Spanish language has been a major advantage.

One might be surprised how often the services of Xavier Garcia, an East Fairmont High School Spanish teacher, are needed by the local Fairmont police.

When the people involved in a case are Spanish speaking, that’s when the police — city, county and state — call on Garcia for help. This has been going on for a dozen years or more.

This came to light recently when two Mexican brothers drowned at Valley Falls.

Garcia is often able to provide the necessary help to make it possible for the police to understand what they need to know. He proved invaluable over Labor Day in the double drowning of the two brothers. For that reason, Xavier Garcia has been selected as a Marion County “Everyday Hero.”

Called numerous times

“I’ve been called often by different agencies over the past dozen years,” Garcia said. “I often get calls from the police or magistrate, and sometimes I’m able to help them.”

He related several stories.

“There was a guy in Pennsylvania they found who had been invited to Clarksburg to work,” he said. “On the way over, he abandoned the guy who was taking him there. Police found him wandering on I-79. He was lost. So they called me to interpret and try to find out where he was from and where he was going.

“I was able to get the questions asked that needed asked,” Garcia said.

“A couple of years ago there was an accident on Route 250 that involved Spanish speaking individuals, I went to the hospital to ask them about their medical history and to explain the hospital procedure to them.

“I probably get a call at least once a year, whether it’s the police or volunteer fire department or some other group.

“On this particular occasion, I was able to interpret the wife and to fill out the police report of the accident,” he said.

Major tragedy

The recent tragedy at Valley Falls was a major one.

“I think they called me after the bodies were retrieved,” he said. “They called me about a quarter of five. I got out there right after 5 o’clock.

“When I got there, they had concluded that both gentleman were dead. The entire process took about three hours or so.

“Two Fridays ago, I was asked to help translate documents from the funeral home. We had to translate the death certificate from English to Spanish so they could get permission to send the bodies back to Mexico,” Garcia said.

“At the scene, I translated for the wife of one of the men who drowned and helped them fill out paper work later.”

Detective Doris James said that Garcia “has in the past and during this incident offered his assistance with translating. When we have individuals from Spanish-speaking areas who aren’t familiar with the English language, he comes in handy.”

She said that Detective Shawn Matthews has said Garcia’s help has been invaluable — both in the recent drowning case and numerous others.

Teaches at East

Garcia teaches Spanish at East Fairmont High School and is in his 13th year there.

“I did drama and speech at North Marion High School prior to that. At East High, they hired me as a Spanish, English, speech and drama teacher. But then the Spanish teacher retired about seven years ago.

“I enjoy teaching in general,” he said. “The thing about Spanish is there seems to be a greater need for that. And in our school, there is a need for Spanish much more than anything else.”

Is there one “translation” that stands out more than any other in Garcia’s mind?

“To me, they are all interesting,” he replied. “They often ask me to do things I’ve never done before. Translating language from other countries — you have to figure out what the government wants.

“Once a man came to my classroom, and he had fallen in love with a woman from Colombia who he had met on a cruise. I think he was local. They were trying to process all the papers. The INS (Immigration National Service) needed a copy of her birth certificate and needed it translated. So I translated that for them.

“I’ve been called out of school to translate for the State Police,” Garcia continued. “There was a truck once that didn’t have a certain sticker. The driver was from El Salvador. My students thought I had been arrested as I went into a cruiser with two troopers and was gone for 40 minutes.

“All of these situations have been interesting. I can tell my students how common Spanish is becoming in West Virginia.”

Garcia is from San Antonio.

“My mother was from Mexico and my father died in an accident before I was born. He was a first-generation Mexican-American.

“I’ve gone back very rarely, and my mother has passed away.”

How did he get to West Virginia?

“My wife is from West Virginian,” he answered.

He and his wife, Cynthia have a daughter and a son. The daughter is a freshman at the University of Notre Dame. Their son, Dominic, is in his second year at East Fairmont.

E-mail John Veasey at jcveasey@timeswv.com.

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