A candlelight vigil will be held tomorrow night for a 17-year-old Jordan High School student who died after he was hit by an SUV while crossing the street in North Long Beach last week.
Juan Gonzalez died Friday, September 30, a day after he was struck by a motorist as he and two friends tried to run diagonally across Artesia Boulevard at Myrtle Avenue. His companions avoided the vehicle but Gonzalez did not—sustaining major head trauma.
The vigil—which will be held near the scene of the incident at 7:00PM on Friday, October 7—will be hosted by students from the Jordan High School Bike Club, newly created with the help of the local grassroots organization Healthy Active Streets, an organization that advocates road safety and complete streets.
“Join us as we mourn the tragic loss of life Juan Gonzalez, 17, with a candlelight vigil,” the Facebook event page read.
Religious leaders, such as Gregory Sanders and Leon Woods, are expected to attend and lead a prayer, according to Danny Gamboa of Healthy Active Streets. The group has also reached out to Long Beach Vice Mayor Rex Richardson and the family.
Gamboa said they plan to ask the city to examine that intersection as well.
“We’re going to be asking the city to take a look at what can be done so this doesn't happen again,” Gamboa said. “[...]maybe speed was a factor and maybe the youth did run across the street... but why did that car miss two kids and hit the third one? Did he not see the first two kids and not slow down? Was the driver driving distracted? There's always this focus on blaming the victim, and not necessarily through the media, but through police reporting. Because what they say carries so much weight before there’s an investigation.”
Gamboa described the area where Gonzalez was hit as a “weird intersection” with a sidewalk on one side but not the other. The location has seen other traffic crashes in the past.
The group also hopes to persuade the city to prioritize Vision Zero, an initiative the city has adopted that aims to eliminate all road fatalities by a certain date.
For more information on the vigil, click here.
Above, left Google Maps screenshot of Artesia Boulevard at Myrtle Avenue.