Jermaine Sanders, left, and Cristina Garcia, right, help console Bernice Torres, center. Her brother, Luis Adrian Torres, died Sunday after his car hit a tree along Susan Street in Costa Mesa. Adrian, as he was known, attended Estancia High School with Sanders. Both were on the cheerleading team. (Bradley Zint, Daily Pilot / June 17, 2013)

Even on his days off, Luis Adrian Torres was known to visit his co-workers at Chipotle Mexican Grill in Costa Mesa and lend a hand.

The grill needed to be cleaned at closing time after a busy day, and Torres did that and everything else enthusiastically at the Harbor Boulevard restaurant.

Friends and family of the 19-year-old Costa Mesa resident, who died after a weekend car crash, described an energetic young man whose life was on the upswing after a challenging time.


FOR THE RECORD:
[An earlier version of the story said the crash happened at 12:36 p.m.]

"He had reached that point at his life where everything was going good after he had struggled so much," said one of his sisters, Bernice Torres, 21.

On Monday morning, Bernice and others watched over a small memorial at the site where, Costa Mesa police say, Torres, driving a 1990 Jaguar XJ-6, veered off the road and hit a tree about 12:36 a.m. Sunday. Darren Wood, traffic investigator for the Costa Mesa Police Department, said a high rate of speed may have contributed to the fatal single-car crash on Susan Street near Sunflower Avenue.

A female passenger is recovering from fractures at an area hospital. Police have not identified her, but Torres' family said they believed she was a close friend, not a girlfriend.

"She'll survive," Wood said.

After the crash, which is under investigation, Torres was taken to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana, where he died a few hours later, according to the Orange County coroner's office.

It is unknown if alcohol was involved, but Wood said a standard toxicology test would be performed. Witnesses are asked to contact Wood at (714) 754-5264.

At the memorial site along Susan Street, well-wishers left notes or wrote on the tree into which the Jaguar had crashed. Flowers, pictures and other mementos — including Torres' copy of the Bible, his Chipotle crew T-shirt and one from Jersey Mike's Subs, where he had also worked — were displayed. Friends and family had also brought copies of a Billy Graham pamphlet, "Steps to peace with God."

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'We needed boys'

Torres — known by many by his middle name, Adrian — graduated from Estancia High School in 2011. He spent his senior year at the Costa Mesa campus, though before that, he had attended Irvine High School. He also spent some of his intermediate years at TeWinkle Middle School.

But while some called him Adrian, at Estancia, Torres was was known by another name: Bernard. This way, his family said, all the Torres siblings attending Estancia would have "B" names: Bernard, Bernice, who also graduated in 2011, and Bernadette, 18, who graduates this week.

Bernadette, who is pregnant, plans to name her son after one of her big brother's nicknames.

At Estancia, Torres got involved with the cheerleading squad — at his older sister's insistence.

"He was so masculine, but he did it because he cared about us and he wanted to help," Bernice said. "We needed boys and he did it."