Fallen Officer's Fiance Denied Travel Visa To Attend Funeral
Grand Prairie, TX – The fiance of fallen Grand Prairie Police Officer Albert “A.J.” Castaneda, who was killed in the line of a duty on June 7, has not been able to get a travel visa from her home in Peru to attend the hero’s funeral on Thursday.
Officer Castaneda was standing on an overpass on the shoulder of the highway using a hand-held laser speed detector as part of an overtime traffic control detail when he was killed, Grand Prairie Police Chief Steve Dye told reporters at a press conference the day of the incident.
The chief explained that a 17-year-old boy had lost control of his Nissan 300ZX for an unknown reason and slammed into the officer, the chief explained.
The force of the impact threw Officer Castaneda off of the overpass and onto the roadway below.
The five-year veteran-of-the-force was rushed to Medical City Arlington, where the “courageous” medical personnel desperately tried to save him, Chief Dye said.
“But we believe he was killed immediately” after the crash, he said solemnly.
The driver of the Nissan was not injured in the collision, and “displayed no signs of impairment” at the scene, Chief Dye said.
Police do not believe the teen struck the Officer Castaneda intentionally, but the Texas Department of Public Safety’s investigation into the incident is ongoing.
Officer Castaneda and his fiance Noemi Aroste had planned to be married in July, WFAA reported.
Aroste lives in Peru, and she and Officer Castaneda had spent the past year traveling together.
When Aroste heard the horrible news about her fiance, she rushed to get an emergency travel visa to the United States so that she could attend his funeral.
Tragically, she learned her visa application was denied during an emergency meeting at the U.S. Embassy on Tuesday, WFAA reported.
“I don’t have the visa, and this morning, I was interviewed at the embassy, but I can’t get the visa,” Aroste said. “Now is very difficult for me, very very sad.”
Aroste told WFAA she may have been denied because is not a property owner in Peru, and the country may have thought she was planning to flee and not return.
Officer Castaneda’s friends and family were horrified by the news that Aroste would miss his funeral.
“The fact that she’s stuck there is a hard pill to swallow,” Missy Steppe, the wife of another Grand Prairie police officer, told WFAA. “If she misses this opportunity, I don’t know if she will recover.”
A group of Officer Castaneda’s family and friends have been trying to get the embassy to show compassion and reverse its decision.
“Coming from a law enforcement background, we understand it, but a little bit of compassion and understand that, this is not something that we can wait on, and I just want them to just grant her the visa,” Steppe said.
She said they will keep working to get the embassy to change its mind and allow Aroste the dignity of helping to bury her fiance.
“We have each other to hug, and to cry, and to hug, and to reminisce, and she’s there, sitting there, in limbo,” Steppe said. “She needs us like we need her here. So I want them to let her come.”
Prior to his law enforcement career, Officer Castaneda served in the U.S. Coast Guard for eight years.
He spent six years working for the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office before he joined the Grand Prairie Police Department five years ago.
Officer Castaneda was a member of the dayshift patrol division, and came in to the job every day with a “passion to protect and serve” and a work ethic that was “second to none,” Chief Dye said.
He grew up in the area he served, and “gave back as good or better” than any officer the chief has ever known, he added.
“If I had to describe a model police officer, he would be one who comes to mind,” the chief continued. “He just had a soul that really exemplified that ‘servant’ aspect of what we do.”
Officer Castaneda leaves behind his fiance, two young children, his parents, and many loving family members.
“He died loving what he was doing… he gave his life serving his community,” Chief Dye said. “We will forever take care of A.J.’s family.”