Gabi Reynaga picked up the phone around 3 a.m. Saturday to a call telling him that his son had been in a car wreck in West Long Beach.
In that moment, Gabi said, it felt like there was a hole where his heart should be.
Once he got to the scene of the crash on Pacific Coast Highway near the Terminal Island Freeway, authorities confirmed what he already feared. His son, 18-year-old Geronimo Reynaga, was dead.
“If you haven’t experienced it, it’s like having your soul stolen, like having everything stolen,” Gabi said about the loss of his son. “He was a very happy kid.”
Police say Geronimo, a Wilmington resident, was a passenger in the back seat of a 2021 BMW that officers found flipped over and mangled at around 2:25 a.m. Saturday.
The driver of the car, according to police, had been heading westbound on the wrong side of Pacific Coast Highway before colliding with a curb and losing control. The car was going so fast that it went airborne after crashing into a raised median and another curb, police said.
Geronimo, as a result, was ejected from the vehicle, police said. Despite attempts by paramedics to save his life, Geronimo died at the scene.
The driver of the vehicle, who was only identified as a Wilmington resident, was hospitalized—as was another passenger. At this time, police say they are investigating impaired driving and speed as possible factors in the crash.
Gabi, meanwhile, has been left with more questions than answers.
The night before the crash, Gabi arrived home from work with a burrito meant for Geronimo’s dinner, but rather than stay and eat, Geronimo asked his dad if he could borrow the car to take his friend home.
His dad said yes, and they gave each other a peck on the cheek as they said goodbye.
That’s the last time they spoke to each other as Gabi, in preparation for work the following morning, went to sleep early that night.
Geronimo eventually returned from dropping his friend off, before being picked up by someone and then heading off to go visit his girlfriend, which he routinely did, his father said.
Hours later, his father presumes, Geronimo was being driven back home by the driver of the BMW when the crash happened.
“He was a very good kid,” his father said. “He was always so friendly, respectful and noble.”
Gabi remembers his son as a fun-loving young man who enjoyed going fishing with his friends and going to amusement parks with his siblings and girlfriend.
At the time of his death, Geronimo was working on finishing continuation school in an effort to get in better standing with his construction job, which offered more benefits if he got his diploma.
A GoFundMe account has been set up by Geronimo’s friends to help his family pay for funeral expenses. It has raised $2,807 of the $35,000 goal as of Monday.