Morgantown rallies for family after fatal crash

Published 2:57 pm Sunday, September 10, 2023

By JAKE MOORE, Bowling Green Daily News

MORGANTOWN — Skyler Moore was closing up his Farmboy Restaurant the Saturday of Labor Day weekend when the calm Morgantown evening was interrupted by a state trooper screaming down the road.

“He was flying,” Moore said. “I was thinking, ‘Oh, he must have got somebody.’ ”

By Sunday morning, Moore and the rest of the tight-knit Butler County community had learned the cause of the alarm.

The local Francisco-Gomez family had been involved in a fatal two-car accident up the road near the Ohio County town of Cromwell. Mother Eulalia “Layla” Gomez and the family’s youngest son, 9-year-old Christian Francisco, lost their lives due to the crash and several family members were hospitalized.

In the wake of the somber news, the usual conversations of the Farmboy’s post-church crowd that morning were replaced with concern for the family’s well being.

“Every customer I had Sunday morning was asking about it,” Moore said. “Most of my customers know everybody.”

Moore had gotten close to the family thanks to a mutual love of athletics. He and his father both had the opportunity to coach Nicholas Francisco, now a sophomore at Butler County High School, in basketball.

“He’s always been an athlete. He’s played basketball, football, whatever,” Moore said. “I’ve always loved Nicholas ever since I first got to coach him.”

He said he remembered Nicholas didn’t speak to him at practice until Moore finally made him laugh, and from that moment on “he was super sweet.”

That coaching connection led Moore to form a bond with the rest of the family, including young Christian.

“He used to sit on the bench with me and my cousin when we coached,” he said. “I know he always wanted to go play. He didn’t care if (other kids) were older or bigger.”

Moore recalled serving the Francisco-Gomez kids iced treats at the Sno Shack, a local shaved ice company owned by his grandparents.

“You’d see them around,” he said. “Small town. You see everybody that you know.”

The young restaurant owner knew he had to do something to help the family. His original thought was to wait for someone else to set up a fundraiser and pitch in from there, but Moore instead decided to lead the charge.

“I thought, ‘Maybe if the 24-year-old that just bought a business does it first,’ it’ll kind of encourage other businesses to step forward,” Moore said. “It was as much as I could (to) help. It was every bit of everything that I had.”

He procured a fish tank to fill up with customer donations – “we’re known for fish” – and announced on Facebook that half of all sales made Wednesday, Sept. 6, would be put aside for the family’s needs.

The fish tank quickly began to fill with twenty, fifty and $100 bills when the Farmboy opened that morning.

“It was unreal,” Moore said. “I had people lined up out the door with a two-hour wait time on food.”

His isn’t the only business with ties one of the Francisco-Gomez boys.

Rosalina Saldivar, owner of Mi Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant, said Jesus Francisco began working at the business last year. She said the family would often visit for special events and the staff had known the kids for several years.

Saldivar, speaking through a translator, said the “unconditional love we have for Jesus and his family” led her to start raising funds, putting up flyers around the restaurant to raise awareness about the loss of Christian and Layla Gomez.

As of Saturday night, the Farmboy’s efforts have raised about $11,700 for the family. Mi Garcia’s has collected $4,700 in donations from customers and staff.

Moore said Nicholas is continuing his recovery in a Louisville hospital. His brother, Felix Francisco, was also hurt in the accident but was able to visit with Farmboy staff earlier this week.

A GoFundMe has been set up for those who wish to donate at

Moore, who has lived in Morgantown his whole life, said he wasn’t surprised with the outpouring of support that followed the tragedy.

“It just felt like the right thing to do.”