Artemio Trinidad-Mena

Artemio Trinidad-Mena
Artemio Trinidad-Mena of Minneapolis is one of the victims killed in the I-35W bridge collapse.
Photo courtesy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press

A few months ago, Artemio Trinidad-Mena was returning home from work when he saw a man sitting in the rain on a street corner near his house in south Minneapolis.

That guy looks hungry, Trinidad-Mena thought, so he went to the refrigerator, whipped up some leftovers and took a plate out to the startled man.

"Artemio was laughing about it the next day," said Julio Alvarado, manager of New York Plaza Produce, where Trinidad-Mena worked as a wholesale delivery man.

What now?
Abundia Martinez, Artemio Trinidad's wife, has no family in Minnesota and she has a newborn baby at home.
MPR Photo/Jessica Mador

"He said the guy acted offended and said he wasn't hungry, so Artemio just left the plate with him in case he changed his mind. He was that kind of guy."

Trinidad-Mena went to work for the wholesale produce company about eight months ago, though he had lived in the Twin Cities for a decade and routinely sent money to three of his children who were living with his extended family in Mexico. His wife and infant daughter lived with him in Minneapolis, Alvarado said.

Trinidad-Mena was known as a jokester who somehow never offended people, and as the ultimate keep-the-customer-happy kind of worker. He was so well-liked by his clients that many refused to deal with office personnel at the warehouse. "He always had a solution to any problem," Alvarado said. "His customers wanted to deal with him, not us."

Though he lived by his paycheck and seemed to enjoy it, Trinidad-Mena had a few dreams -- some of them wacky, Alvarado said.

Paying respects
Mourners view the remains of Artemio Trinidad-Mena prior to his funeral mass on Saturday. Trinidad-Mena, the father of four children including a young baby, was killed in the collapse of the I-35W bridge on Wednesday.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

"He was really into cars and knew all the nuts and bolts about them, and every now and then he'd say to me, 'Hey, do you want to open a car dealership? I'll be the salesman.'"

Another dream was to write soap operas, which are wildly popular on Mexican television.

"He always said he was not going to die until he wrote a soap opera," Alvarado recalled. "In a way he did --- a story about his life, and everybody knows it."

Trinidad-Mena's wife, Abundia Martinez, could barely speak through her tears last week, as she described what her husband's loss means to her.

"He was an example of the best husband you could have. He was my other half. And like I say, the other half is my children," she said.

Martinez's future is uncertain because she speaks no English and has no family in Minnesota, Alvarado said.