Photo: Cheo Feliciano
Puerto Rican salsa star Cheo Feliciano died early Thursday when his car collided with a cement pole in San Juan. He was 78.
The crash occurred at 4:13 a.m. as the singer was driving to his home in the suburb of Cupey, transit police coordinator Jorge Hernandez Peña told Efe from the accident scene.
Jose Luis “Cheo” Feliciano Vega was not wearing a seat belt, Hernandez Peña said.
The singer’s body was removed before 7:00 a.m., but his Jaguar sat for hours on the shoulder of Route 176, just a few meters (yards) from the Feliciano home.
Son Jose Enrique Feliciano, who arrived at the scene with several police officers, told reporters he didn’t know why his father was coming home at such a late hour.
“I don’t know if he was in a meeting or something, or fell asleep from the medications he was taking, because the car ended up against traffic,” a tearful Jose Enrique said.
“The time comes for all of us. What can I say?,” the younger Feliciano said. “Thank God we have his music to remember.”
Cheo, who moved to New York at 17, was a drummer before getting his first singing gig with the Joe Cuba Sextet. Later a member of the Fania All-Stars, regarded as the best salsa group of all time, Feliciano was also successful as a solo artist.
The Latin Grammys honored Cheo Feliciano in 2008 with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla declared three days of mourning for Cheo, calling him one of Puerto Rico’s “most acclaimed voices.”