When Dylyn Fry told her uncle, Victor Melendez II, she would see him this weekend, she couldn't have known it was the last time she would speak to him.
"The last thing I ever said to him was 'I'll see you later,'" Fry said. "I figured I was going to see him that weekend. Obviously, it's the weekend, and he's not here."
Melendez, 41, was killed Monday night after being struck by an SUV in the Belmont neighborhood. The driver, Hani Hadgi, 29, was booked into jail Tuesday and charged the next day with leaving the scene of an accident causing serious bodily injury or death.
Fry said she met Melendez, known to friends and family as "Oso," when she was about 8 years old after her aunt Teresa Hill became Melendez's partner. Fry said Melendez immediately became a special person in her life, and she looked forward to spending holidays with her aunt and uncle.
"It was our tradition that, every single year, we always spent the Fourth of July together, no matter what," Fry said.
"He would drop by randomly to make sure we were doing OK," she said. "He was that kind of person that was always thinking about you."
Melendez was originally from Texas and later moved to Lincoln, where he met Hill. Melendez and Hill had three sons together. Fry said Melendez dedicated his time to his family when he wasn't working at Smithfield Foods in Crete.
"He was the ultimate dad," she said. "The kind of guy that shows up. He was always there. He was always encouraging his kids."
In addition than his three sons with Hill, Melendez has two other sons, a daughter and a granddaughter who live in Texas.
"I don't really know life without him," Fry said. "This is really hard for us and my whole family. He's just always been a part of us."
Fry said Melendez's funeral, which will be in Texas, is still being organized. But Hill is planning a memorial service in Lincoln for their local friends and family.
Fry set up a GoFundMe page for people who want to donate to help the family with the funeral expenses. More than $1,000 has been collected so far.
"It's a huge blessing, because Melendez was the provider for his family and his income really mattered," Fry said. "With him being gone, (Hill) is really going to need the help."
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