Students at Arroyo High School held a vigil Friday for a softball coach killed with two friends earlier this week after their car rolled over in Arcadia.
The school's softball team spoke directly to the mourning family of assistant coach Raymond Yniquez, who died in the crash Tuesday with his best friend Marcus Garcia and Anna Velazquez as they were celebrating Velazquez's birthday. A fourth friend who survived the incident is in stable condition in the hospital but continues to fight for his life, friends said.
Though just 21, Yniquez left a lasting mark on the lives on those he mentored. He was himself a graduate of Arroyo High School, where he continued to coach softball.
"I just want to say to his parents, thank you guys so much for raising such an amazing person," one student said as she fought back tears. "He believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself."
Yniquez worked as a tow truck driver but made it his life’s mission to mentor young people at the high school and church, according to youth minister Gilbert Zaragoza.
"We all go through hard times and hard seasons and we need someone to love us," Zaragoza said. "He was that person for a lot of people."
The cause of the crash remains under investigation, but police say Garcia, the driver, was speeding. His family has said he was likely excited to be driving his new car, which his parents had just given him as an early birthday present.
"Look at the hurt that has come from recklessness. I don’t blame Marcus, I don’t blame my brother, it could have happened to anybody," Yniquez's sister Crystal Yniquez said. "My brother’s mission in life was just to make people happy and to save lives. Hopefully through this tragedy someone’s life will be touched and be saved."