A teen Eagle Scout, killed in a car crash, is being hailed as a hero for taking the wheel of his stepfather's SUV after the man suffered a medical emergency. The teen's actions saved the lives of the man and two other passengers.
17-year-old Christopher Alvelo, his stepfather, 51-year-old Joe Snyder and two friends were driving home from an Eagle Scout trash clean-up project in Pennypack Park on Saturday when Snyder suffered a medical emergency shortly after 12:30 p.m.
"He saved lives," said Alvelo's cousin Susie Foremski. "He was a hero."
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Alvelo, who was in the passenger seat of the 2007 Ford Explorer, grabbed the wheel and tried to take control of the SUV.
The teen was able to steer the vehicle off the road and into a parking lot for the North Philadelphia Jet Center at Northeast Philadelphia Airport along the 2800 block of Red Lion Road. However, he couldn't get to the break and the vehicle slammed into an unoccuppied Paratranist van.
Alvelo died at the scene.
Snyder is in stable but critical condition. Police also say the two 15-year-old boys who were sitting in the back of the vehicle are all in stable condition after being treated for minor injuries.
"Very gruesome and very sad," said Justin Yanbul, who works at the North Philadelphia Jet Center.
In addition to aircraft, Yanbul says jet fuel is also stored at the jet center.
"I'm just happy they didn't hit the oil tanker over there or fuel farm," Yanbul said. "Because obviously 30,000 gallons of fuel doesn't do any good for anybody. It could have been a lot worse than what it was."
Alvelo's mother and aunt told NBC10 Christopher was an Eagle Scout and a senior at New Foundations Charter High School. Alvelo would have turned 18-years-old in December and planned on joining the Air Force.
"He was a gentleman's gentleman," said Bill Schilling, the principal of New Foundations. "You wanted him to be your son and date your daughter."
"He always thought about other people before himself," Foremski said while in tears. "He loved his mother, his sister and his brother."
The loss of Alvelo marks the first student death at New Foundations. Schilling says there will be an assembly Monday morning and grief counselors will be on hand. Monday night at 7 p.m., students and family will hold a vigil for the teen.
"No one will ever forget Chris," said Kacey Kilpatrick, one of the teen's friends.
"He was genuinely a beautiful person," said another friend, Paige Griffin. "I've never met someone like Chris."