Family and friends are mourning the loss of a teen who moved his friend out of harm’s way before being fatally struck by an oncoming pickup truck in Hesperia, located in San Bernardino County, Calif.
Daniel Sanchez, 17, and his friend, Valeria Rodriguez, also 17, were each riding bicycles on their way to a restaurant on Main Street near Escondido Avenue (map) about 1:25 a.m. Monday when a white pickup truck approached them from behind.
Rodriguez said they were riding side by side on the edge of the paved road when they heard from a distance the truck coming down the lonely street. The girl was closest to the pavement, and as a precaution, Sanchez urged her to switch sides with him.
“He told me, ‘There’s a car coming, move more inside,’” she said. “As soon as his sentence finished, that’s when it happened.”
Sanchez was hit by the truck, whose driver failed to stop.
"He fell on top of me and I imagine he bounced back on the floor and that’s when he hit his head," Rodriguez said.
Sanchez sustained severe head injuries and was airlifted to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, where he soon slipped into a coma. His brain was swelling and skull was fractured in four different places when doctors performed surgery on him, his family said. He died while on life support at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday.
Investigators said they have no leads on the driver.
Rodriguez was bruised, but was fine, she said.
Family members described Sanchez as a jokester who was friendly and loving. His final act of kindness was switching sides with his close friend in a dangerous situation.
“He was thinking of someone else until his last moment,” said his aunt, Monica Sanchez Gonzalez. “He had the biggest heart.”
Sanchez graduated from Oak Hills High School in May and planned on follow in his grandfather’s footsteps in becoming an electrician, his mother said. He was the oldest of seven children.
“My 16-year-old, he lost his best friend,” said the single mother, Rocio Sanchez. “They’re taking it really hard. It’s nothing but tears and overwhelming breakdowns at the moment. He’d smother us and kiss us. They’re overwhelmed, it’s very hard. “
Sanchez’s mother is asking for her son’s killer to come forward.
“I want justice, I want prosecution. I don’t want revenge, but he needs to pay for what he did,” she said. “If he would have stayed and it was just a tragic accident, I would have understood. But he left and that’s something I can’t get over.”
Sanchez's family plans on posting fliers Thursday hoping to get more information on the pickup truck and driver.
Anyone with information on the case was asked to call the Hesperia Police Department at (760) 947-1500.
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