EL MONTE >> A steady stream of El Monte High School Lions stopped by a memorial in front of the campus Saturday to light candles and pay their respects to classmate Adrian Castro, who lost his life along with nine other people in a fiery bus crash in Orland while en route to tour his prospective college.
The 18-year-old El Monte High School senior is unaccounted after a FedEx truck collided head-on with a tour bus containing 44 Southern California high school students, three adult chaperones and a driver. His family members have said they’ve been informed he is among the dead, though officials identification through Glenn County coroner’s officials was pending.
Five students, the three chaperones, the bus driver and the truck driver all died following the crash. The bus was on a trip to bring underrepresented Southern California High School seniors to visit the campus of Humboldt State University.
Friends recalled Castro as a popular, outgoing and loyal young man as they lit candles, left flowers and wrote messages to the young man. Monster energy drinks, a baseball glove, beer, baseball caps and other mementos also lined the sidewalk in front of El Monte High School, where Castro played football and baseball.
“He had a very bright personality,” said Robert Medina, a junior who transferred this year from El Monte High School to Mountain View High School.
“He used to back everyone up,” Medina said. “His thing was, since we’re all Lions, we’re all a family.”
Though Medina said he and others initially held out hope for a miracle, that Castro would be found alive, he said he’s accepted that his friend is gone.
“He’s in a very better place,” Medina said.
Friend Bryana Ruiz, said Castro was a good friend.
“He was just a great student. Everyone loved him, everyone knew he was. Not because he was popular, but for what he was doing and what he wanted to accomplish in life,” Ruiz said. “We all just loved him and we’re all going to miss him a lot. He was always number one in our hearts.”
Some visitors at the memorial knew Castro well. Others had not met him, but nonetheless wanted to show their support for his family and their classmates.
El Monte High School freshman Andres Huerta stopped by to light a candle at the sidewalk memorial.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t get to know him,” he said. But he said he still felt compelled to visit the school Saturday, “to pay my respects to the family.”
“Lions stick together,” Huerta added.
— Staff Writer John McCoy contributed to this report.