PALMDALE, Calif. (KTLA) — Friends and family are remembering an 18-year-old who was struck and killed by a school bus full of children while riding his bicycle.
A vigil was held Tuesday for Michael Valenzuela at the intersection where the accident happened.
The crash took place around 3:45 p.m. Monday as Valenzuela was riding his bicycle near 55th Street East and Avenue R.
Authorities said Valenzuela was trying to cross the street when he was hit by the bus, which was heading westbound on Avenue R, and dragged for several yards.
The bus was carrying 47 students home from Los Amigos Junior High. No one on board the bus was injured.
The California Highway Patrol says the 54-year-old female bus driver was traveling at about 50 miles per hour, below the speed limit.
She swerved left to avoid the collision, but ended up striking the bicycle in the left turn lane of eastbound Avenue R, according to the CHP report.
Valenzuela, nicknamed “Speedy” because he loved running cross-county and track, was transported to Antelope Valley Hospital, where he died from his injuries.
The Pete Knight High School graduate had just completed his first day on his new job at the nearby Vallarta Supermarket and was on his way to soccer practice at Domenic Massari Park.
Friends said they are in absolute shock.
“He was a good kid, a good guy,” said friend Marco Ibarra. “We called him the baby of the group because he was the youngest one of us. Speedy — he loved running.
“He was my friend, he helped me out with my soccer team,” Olivia Sanchez said. “He was gonna help me out next season too.”
The cause of the crash is still under investigation by the California Highway Patrol.
Residents say the intersection has been an accident waiting to happen.
It has a stop signs going north and south, but none east and west.