Family mourns loss of Minnesota woman killed after reuniting with birth mom

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Marisa Bocanegra was killed in a car accident shortly after being reunited in Minnesota with her birth mother from Colombia. 

The last couple of months have been full of joy and heartbreak for Marisa Bocanegra's family. But, her loved ones say they are leaning on each other to get through this difficult time.

"It's been rough but we're managing," Bocanegra's fiance, Brian Nisbit, told Fox 9. "Our family has really come together. All of us. We were together before but more so now."

Bocanegra died last month when the car she was riding in with her 15-year-old daughter was hit by a semi in rural Goodhue County.

READ MORE: Minnesota woman recently reunited with birth family killed in crash

Bocanegra's daughter, Hallie White, who was behind the wheel and doesn't remember anything about the accident, spent weeks in the hospital in a medically induced coma. She suffered a traumatic brain injury, a fractured neck and pelvis and a lacerated liver, but now she is recuperating at home.

"Apparently, I was coming back from dropping off my sister Bella at gymnastics and then I  find out a couple of weeks later after my coma that mom passed away. It was really sad for me," White said.

"I'm okay with it. Some things you don't want to remember," Nisbit said.

Marisa's death made national headlines because she had just been reunited with her birth mother and brother from Colombia at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport a couple of weeks earlier.

Sadly, the newfound family she expected to spend the rest of her life with had to mourn her death at her funeral just days before Christmas.

"The plot is movie-quality, but it's definitely not fun," Bocanegra's oldest son 19-year-old Jonathan White said.

But, Marisa's loved ones say following the example she set of helping others is the best way to keep her memory alive.

"Overall it sucks. It’s terrible but in the end, a lot of people are coming together. Marisa was able to fulfill her lifelong dream of meeting her mom," Nisbit said.

Memory bands are now on sale for $10 each to raise money for Marisa's family to pay for Hallie's medical bills and Marisa's funeral. For more information, contact Sheryl White at or Maria Valencia at  

There's also a GoFundMe set up for her family and a benefit is planned for next month. 

Marisa Bocanegra Benefit

Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017
4 p.m.-9 p.m.
Trailhead Grill in Pine Island, Minnesota