Remembering Deputy Dakota Moreno

A 25 News Now Extra takes a look at what Dakota's dad is doing to honor and remember his son, as well as his mission to save others.

VICTORIA, Texas – Abel Moreno had dreamed of being a deputy and working in law enforcement. His parents advised against it, so he never was able to do so. When Abel’s son, Dakota Moreno, approached his dad with the news he wanted to become a deputy, Abel was proud of his son for chasing his dreams.

“That’s all he used to watch on TV was cop shows and stuff, 48 hours and stuff. When he told me he wanted to be a cop, I was happy, I was proud of him. I just said, son, I’ll back you 100 percent,” says Moreno.

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Even from a young age, Dakota wanted to work in law enforcement. Here he is with his sisters.

After completing the police academy Dakota was hired on at the Lavaca County Sheriffs’ Office. He would start out working in the jail and after three years was promoted to a patrol deputy.

“Even the people that were in the jail, they wanted him not to leave, they wanted him to stay there because he touched them in a way like he had that personality he just won everybody over. Everybody just loved him,” says Moreno.

Once he became a deputy, Dakota loved every minute of it, a true testament to his passion for serving his community.

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Dakota conducting a traffic stop. His father says Dakota loved every minute of his time as a deputy.

“If he could work 24 hours as a deputy, knowing that he’d serve and protect, that’s what he wanted to do. They’d say Dakota you start in two hours so he’d be getting off nights and say okay I’m going to my car, just come wake me up and they’d let him go sleep in his car for a couple of hours, come wake him up and he’d go at it again,” says Moreno.

Dakota had done what he’d set out to do, fulfilling his dream of becoming a Lavaca County Deputy, but in December of 2020, the Moreno family was struck with tragedy, Dakota was involved in a fatal motorcycle crash.

“His time was just cut short. His dream of being a deputy, he followed and filled his dream. He just wanted to become more, by stepping up and becoming a Texas Ranger further down the road. Everything was just cut short,” says Moreno.

For Dakota’s family, all of their lives were turned upside down.

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Dakota was a family man, who was loved dearly.

“I miss him. I mean there’s not a word or feeling that I could put…I know he’s in a better place, I just wasn’t ready to lose my son, my hero I mean,” says Moreno.

As hard as it was to keep going, Abel knew he had to honor his son. Then one day it hit him, he would do something with Dakota’s Camaro. It was a graduation gift from father to son.

“He saw it and he goes dad look there’s one right there. I still remember we just walked in and I say well open it up, it was an RS, it had everything but a microwave in it. Opened it up and sit down in it and he says ‘man this is nice, it’s too much dad’, and I had the keys already and threw it to him and said it’s yours babe, I mean he just dropped, tears came to his eyes,” says Moreno.

Abel got the Camaro wrapped with designs and pictures of Dakota to honor his life and service to law enforcement.

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Dakota’s Camaro now serves as a way to honor him as well as a way to bring awareness to the dangers of distracted driving.

“It just makes me feel good because I feel his presence, and it’s like a therapy for me to talk about my son and to hear other people look at him, to look at the hood because he’s on the hood of the car, saying how lovely of a kid he was, how handsome of a young man he was,” says Moreno.

The Camaro honors Dakota and serves as a reminder to bring awareness to the dangers of distracted driving. A reported 5,172 motorcyclists were killed in traffic crashes in 2018, Abel wants drivers on the road to look twice for motorcyclists.

“All it takes is a split second just to look at your phone and you look up and it’s too late. If I could save a little kid’s life or a family’s life, it would mean the world to me, it would mean the world to me if I could save somebody’s life by getting this point across,” says Moreno.

Abel continues to sport the Camaro whenever he goes, from parades right here in the Crossroads. Now Abel wants Nascar to be a pace car in the Indy 500, something that is now in the works.

“I know my son would be doing cartwheels up in Heaven and flipping saying dad you’re doing it for me,” says Moreno.

Dakota’s younger sister Amber found out she was pregnant around the time of Dakota’s passing, so although he’d never get to meet his nephew they share the same name, being named Dakota after his late uncle.

Between the wrapped Camaro that spreads awareness and a family who will never forget an amazing young man, Dakota’s legacy lives on.