Fatal bus crash: El Monte High victim mourned at school vigil

Friends and family of a teen killed last week when a FedEx truck slammed into a charter bus full of prospective college students gathered for an emotional vigil Monday night at El Monte High School.

Adrian Castro, 19, was courteous and stubborn in his own way, making sure that anything he started, he finished, said his dad, Raul Castro.

“That was my right-hand man and now he’s no longer with me,” he added.

Adrian Castro was among 10 people killed last week when the truck slammed into the bus headed for Humboldt State University for a spring tour. Four other students, three chaperons and both vehicles’ drivers also died.

In the days since the crash, victims’ relatives have been identifying their loved ones as being among those killed. The Glenn County coroner cautioned after the crash that it could take days to officially identify the bodies because of the severity of the burns.

Calvin Aceves, who survived the crash, told the crowd at El Monte that he sat in front of Castro on the bus and described the teen as nice, according to video footage posted by KTLA. Castro, an El Monte High School football player and oldest of three boys, let Aceves lean his seat back then plugged in speakers to his phone so the people around him could listen to music.

“He passed away trying to help others,” Aceves said, holding back tears.

Other witnesses have shared their own memories of the chaos in the days since the wreck.

One survivor told Green Dot Public Schools chief executive Marco Petruzzi how one of his school system’s students helped save others.

Ismael Jimenez, a student at Animo Inglewood Charter High School, "busted open a window at the front of the bus as it was filling with smoke and people were getting burned," Petruzzi said in a statement. "He started lifting kids out in an effort to save them."

Petruzzi said one of the crash survivors recounted Jimenez's heroics during the chaos and said he "was indeed a hero."

Officials are still trying to determine how the crash occurred. The California Highway Patrol said it was seeking witnesses as well as photos and videos.

Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino announced that his office had partnered with Sharefest to set up a fund for the victims' families to offset funeral costs and other financial hardships.

Donations may be made online at http://www.sharefestinc.org/buscrashfund. Checks can be made payable to Sharefest, with "Humboldt bus crash victims assistance fund" in the memo line, and should be sent to Sharefest Community Development, 3480 Torrance Blvd. No. 110, Torrance, CA 90503.

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joseph.serna@latimes.com

Twitter: @josephserna