Community Mourns Monterey Park Crossing Guard’s Death

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A 76-year-old crossing guard who was fatally struck by a car near two schools in Monterey Park was mourned by the community on Wednesday.

A community was mourning the death of a Monterey Park crossing guard who was killed after being struck by a car on Jan. 27, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)

A community was mourning the death of a Monterey Park crossing guard who was killed after being struck by a car on Jan. 27, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)

Abel Flores Castellanos was sitting in a folding chair at the corner of Garfield and Elmgate avenues Tuesday around 3:40 p.m. when a driver lost control of his 2004 Ford Mustang -- possibly swerving to avoid another vehicle -- then jumped the curb and hit him, according to the Monterey Park Police Department and the California Highway Patrol.

He was pronounced dead at the scene. He was identified by the county coroner's office Wednesday.

The collision occurred near Monterey Park Christian School and Meher Montessori School (map), and a growing makeshift memorial with candles, flowers, notes and a folding chair with a sign that read "RIP" had been left in the area.

"You never know what life has in store for you, and we're just thankful we have each other," said the victim's son, Ronnie Castellanos.

The crossing guard's daughter, Lorraine Prietto, heard about the crash on the news.

"I knew right away it was my dad," said a tearful Prietto.

Abel Castellanos' wife had died of cancer a little over nine months ago, Ronnie Castellanos said, calling his father's death a "double tragedy."

Abel Castellanos is seen in photo provided to KTLA by his daughter.

Abel Castellanos is seen in photo provided to KTLA by his daughter.

Abel Castellanos was well-known in the neighborhood, having worked there for at least 10 years, residents said of the well-loved crossing guard. He was described as wonderful and warm, and was constantly smiling.

“He was always very warm, very warm-hearted waving at everybody, always talkative, always had conversation. And a smile on his face, always,” said Steve Gonzalez, a friend of Castellanos.

Prietto said her father enjoyed his job.

“This is what he loved to do, and he would’ve done it no matter what,” she said. “If there … were kids in the street , if they were in harm’s way, he would’ve stepped out and … protected them.”

Prietto added that she was still in shock, but was glad to see the community pay its respects and to know that her father was "with my mom now in a better place."

Castellanos' cause of death was listed as blunt force trauma to the lower body, a Wednesday CHP news release stated.

The California Highway Patrol took over the investigation into the crash at the request of Monterey Park police, according to the release.

The driver of the Mustang has been identified as 19-year-old Jin Yuan Yang, according to the CHP release.

His 53-year-old passenger, Yin Hua Li, sustained major injuries in the crash, the release stated. She was taken to a Garfield Medical Center after complaining of pain to her neck and right knee.

CHP had earlier identified the passenger as Yang's mother.

Yang was not arrested, according to the release.

KTLA's Alberto Mendez, Melissa Pamer and Kennedy Ryan contributed to this story.

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