MONTCLAIR, CA (FOX 11) - An 11-year-old boy died Thursday morning after he was struck by a vehicle while walking in an intersection in front of Vernon Middle School.
As school let out for the day at Vernon Middle School the sadness was overwhelming. A 7th Grader named Michael Gallegos mourns for an 11-year-old friend who was killed just hours earlier while walking across a crosswalk to get to school. It was just before 8am.
He was hit by a pickup truck.
Gallegos said, of his school-friend, “He was, in general, a great person and didn’t deserve to get run over.”
Police say the 11-year-old appeared to walk in the crosswalk… wasn’t running, and according to Police Lt. Brian Ventura, “... unfortunately a vehicle approaching the crosswalk collided with the young child…" who was taken to a local hospital where he died.
Rayne Chavez says it happened right in front of her. The 13-year-old says, “I saw a black truck and he fell and I just went running inside screaming that someone was hurt… that someone got ran over.
Everybody was panicked … everybody didn’t know what to do.”
“It was terrible," says Elsa Ortiz who has a son the same age. I feel for the family. I feel for their loss. What else can we say?”
The District put out a statement expressing sorrow, offering grief counseling (counselors had been here all day)… and saying"
“This is a somber reminder of the importance to review safety tips..." for crossing streets at intersections, identified crosswalks and walking in pairs or groups.”
The district says they usually don’t have crossing guards at Middle Schools like Vernon… typically its more for elementary schools. The district says its the city’s responsibility to do that.
As for the driver of the pickup truck, Lt. Brian Ventura says there didn’t appear to be speed involved. And, there was “o evidence of texting or talking on the cell phone..." or evidence of driving under the influence of anything.
There are parents who say cross guards or crossing lights would be helpful. Lillian Prieto says there are none of those. She told FOX 11, "I’m here at the stop sign all the time and I see the cars go by so fast. They don’t take the time… everybody is in a rush everyday.”
Meanwhile, Rayne Chavez set up a makeshift memorial. She says, “It just felt right because someone died and passed away here.”
And, Michael Gallegos signed it. And, after he did, he said, it's “just sad and devastating how this could happen.”
Montclair police do not suspect the driver was impaired and the cause of the crash is under investigation.