By all accounts, local rapper Jose "Low Key" Hernandez was both talented and generous during his short time on Earth. According to his family, Hernandez spent Christmas Day 2015 with his friends, handing out blankets to the homeless and toys to kids as part of the charitable organization he founded, Helping Others Prosper Everyday, or H.O.P.E., for short.
By 2:30 a.m. on December 26, Hernandez, 25, and two friends, Jonathan Green, 26, and Jose "Chico" Martinez, 25, were dead. A red light-runner, who had just come from having drinks at a local strip club, rammed his black Chevrolet Tahoe into the 1997 Lexus ES300 being driven by Green at the intersection of 59th Avenue and Indian School Road.
The three men were declared dead on the scene by the Phoenix Fire Department.
The Lexus was so badly damaged that it had to be cut open so that the bodies could be retrieved. Though the driver of the Tahoe, Andy Barrios, admitted to drinking and driving, no impairment was observed by Phoenix police and his blood-alcohol level was well below the legal limit.
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As a result, Barrios faces just one misdemeanor charge, instead of more serious manslaughter charges. He pleaded not guilty in July, and his next court date is September 19. If found guilty, Barrios is looking at no more than 30 days in jail.
Rather than dwell on injustice and tragedy, friends, family and fellow performers are holding a fundraiser in Hernandez's memory at Marc's Sports Grill and Nightlife in Glendale, this Saturday, August 20, which will feature performances by hip-hop artists Young Spider, Ladie Era, PillzTherealist, JFlipp, and Greedy Gonzalez, with DJ Private on the decks. The cover is $5, but people also are encouraged to donate bottled water, hygiene products, and new or clean and gently used blankets.
The show is for all ages, and is scheduled to run from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. If you can't make it out, Hernandez's mom, Christina Chicharello, has set up an account at the crowdfunding site YouCaring.com. She thanks her son's supporters, and asks them to keep in mind her son's motto: "Hustle hard and stay humble."