Arizona Republic photojournalist Nick Oza injured in car crash

Nick Oza, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist for The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com, was seriously injured in a car crash in southwest Phoenix.

Oza, 56, has been at the center of some of The Republic and azcentral.com’s most important work since joining the paper in 2006. He has brought coverage of neglected children, immigrants, protesters to life for social justice, migrant asylum seekers, and the daily experiences of countless Arizonans.

He was injured around 6:47 a.m. Friday while traveling on the 202 loop near Vee Quiva Casino and the resort town south of Laveen. Oza remains hospitalized.

Bart Graves, spokesman for the Arizona Department of Public Safety, said Oza’s vehicle crossed all lanes of the freeway before hitting the center median wall.

“The sole driver of the vehicle was conscious but unresponsive,” Graves said in an email to The Republic.

Nick Oza of the Arizona Republic.

Greg Burton, Editor of The Republic, said: “We at The Republic are all focused on supporting Nick and his family as they navigate the days and weeks ahead.

“He gave so much to the people of Arizona – it’s there in photos of a BLM protester in downtown Phoenix and players at football practice at Perry High School; junkyard in Wittmann and a cowboy at West World in Scottsdale.

“Few people see like Nick sees. If he captured you with his camera, he captured you with grace and dignity, with empathy and kindness. This is especially true of her work with migrants, immigrants, refugees and left-behind children. His photos give faces and names to people that so many others have reduced to labels.

Republic reporter Daniel Gonzalez developed a close friendship with Ahwatukee Foothills resident Oza while working on assignments that included multiple trips to Mexico and Central America for immigration-related stories. Oza’s work has also taken him to other countries, including India, Iraq and the African nation of Benin.

Gonzalez says Oza has a knack for making subjects relax and open up.

One of Nick Oza's photos: Football coach KenAndre Brown visits his player Josiah Blake from South Mountain High School.

“He’s a super outgoing person who loves people and being around people,” Gonzalez said. “He can go into any situation and with his friendly personality put people at ease. That’s why he’s able to get amazingly good shots.”

Oza, a native of India turned American citizen, also has a generous streak that often involves bringing Indian food, coffee to go, or other goodies.

When Gonzalez traveled to the Miami area to see his widowed father, he said Oza found out in advance which restaurant the family would be going to and arranged through the waiter to pay $100 for the cost. of the meal.

Gonzalez describes Oza, who is married and has a daughter, as having a passion for people and always striving to get the best photos possible.

“He likes to say, ‘I’m looking for poetry,'” Gonzalez said.

Oza’s journalism honors include a Rocky Mountain Emmy Award, a National Press Photographers Association Best Photojournalism Award, and a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in Biloxi, Mississippi’s coverage of Hurricane Katrina. Sun Herald, among others. He has been named Arizona Photographer of the Year multiple times.

Asylum seekers from Guatemala, Brenda Carolina Par Rosales, 28, with her 3-year-old son, Ethan Jafeth Par, 3, take a shower.  His family was released by ICE to Iglesia Cristiana El Buen Pastor Church in Mesa.

Oza was also a lead photojournalist on the team that created “The Wall,” The Republic’s 2017 special report, which won the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting. The photojournalism of this series later became a feature documentary.

A GoFundMe.com account to support Oza and his family raised more than half of his $50,000 goal.

Contact the reporter at [email protected]

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