Services will be held this week for Paul Nielsen, the Utah man killed in Mexico earlier this month with his wife.
The family released a statement to FOX 13 discussing the death of Nielsen and his wife, Janet Vazquez.
“Our family is absolutely devastated over the loss of our dad," the statement said. "We were very close to him. His family was his world, and he wasn’t just our father,” the family wrote. “He was one of our best friends. It’s been a very difficult week for us, especially with trying to make the arrangements to have his body returned to us.
“He loved people and though he sometimes came across as shy in public, those who knew him well saw a warm, playful and intelligent man. He loved riddles, and we often discussed problems and ideas together over the dinner table. He touched so many lives and has many friends and loved ones that are struggling with his loss."
The family also discussed more of what happened on the day the couple died. Some of the information was provided by Vazquez’s 12-year-old son, Kevin, who survived the ordeal with minor injuries.
Kevin said three vehicles began chasing them as they drove on the highway. Vázquez shouted that they were going to assault them and Nielsen accelerated. Kevin heard gunshots, and their car went off the road.
The people chasing them then pulled all three out of the car, robbed them, and put them in the back of a vehicle. At some point, the couple were shot and killed.
The unidentified robbers drove to another location and left Kevin on the side of the road with his parents’ bodies, the family wrote. They say Kevin attempted to get help from passing drivers, but no one paid attention until the police arrived.
The family said they’ve been told both U.S. and Mexican governments are working to find the killers.
Editor’s note • The Salt Lake Tribune and FOX 13 are content-sharing partners.