By Chelle Delaney
Quay County Sun
Thomas Lee Prieto had a favorite blanket, a favorite cartoon character — SpongeBob SquarePants — and an outgoing personality.
“He was like Linus with his blanket,” said his mother, Monique Garcia.
“When you’d go to the grocery store, he’d say hi to everybody,” said Rachel Garcia, Thomas’ grandmother.
The 2-year-old Tucumcari boy died Sept. 20 at an Amarillo hospital. Officials say he suffered spinal and brain hemorrhaging. Monique Garcia’s boyfriend of two years, Marcos Martinez, 22, is charged with an open count of murder and child abuse.
Martinez was babysitting Thomas while his mother worked at McDonald’s, where is she a manager, Monique Garcia said.
“He’s watched him (Thomas) before. I never thought he’d do something to hurt my son,” Monique Garcia said. “His story was that (Thomas) was jumping on the bed and he fell.”
Garcia said law enforcement officials told her Thomas’ injuries were comparable to being dropped from a 15-story building or being in a severe head-on vehicular collision.
Garcia said she received a call at work from Martinez on the afternoon of Sept. 19. She then called her mother, Rachel Garcia, who lives next door to her home northwest of Tucumcari about a mile off Cemetery Road.
Rachel Garcia then ran from her home to her daughter’s house.
“Marcos was standing out on the front porch, crying with Thomas in his arms,” Rachel Garcia said. “I told him to put him down and lie him down flat. His (Thomas’) teeth were clinched shut.”
Rachel Garcia said she performed CPR on her grandson after calling 911.
“His little heart began beating and I stayed there,” until rescue units arrived, she said.
Thomas was pronounced dead last Saturday at the Amarillo hospital.
Monique Garcia said the family donated Thomas’ organs “so that the lives of other little kids could be helped.”
Rachel Garcia said her grandson had always been active and outgoing and loved to play with his brother, 5-year-old Charles, and sister, 1-year-old Esperanza.
“He loved to eat oatmeal cookies,” she remembered. “We’d go for walks and he liked to go in the little garden that we have out front. He brought us a lot of joy.”
Funeral services are at 2 p.m. Monday at St. Anne’s Catholic Church.
Thomas is survived by his mother and maternal grandmother, his siblings, his father, Bobby M. Prieto, and grandparents Bobby and Eleanor Prieto.