With heavy hearts, family, friends and students gathered for a vigil at Steele Canyon High School Wednesday night to mourn a student killed last week in a tragic head-on collision.
Julian Fraire, 16, a junior at Steele Canyon High School, died in a crash on his way to school the morning of Mar. 20.
Fraire was driving a Chrysler minivan in the 2900-block of Steele Canyon Road when, for unknown reasons, he crossed the double yellow lines into the path of an oncoming Ford F-450. The vehicles collided head-on and Fraire was killed in the impact.
On Wednesday night, Fraire’s parents lit the first candle at his vigil.
Amid tears and condolences, the teenager’s Steele Canyon High School family likened him to the flame that flickered from the candles – calling him a beacon of brilliance and friendship.
"He really impacted my life and I’ll never forget him for that," said a classmate who spoke during the tribute. "He helped me through a lot of stuff.”
"He was one of those people you don’t come across often," said friend Tamia Rachal at the vigil. "Someone that if he was in a crowd of a million people, would stand out. He was so smart and knew everything about science and other subjects."
Vigil attendee Leslie Cloud witnessed the wreck that took Fraire’s life – which happened only about two miles away from the school.
Cloud said she tried to comfort the teen in his final minutes.
"With all my heart I did all I could. I held him the best I could and rubbed his head and just talked to him. I only hoped he knew we were there giving him the love he deserved,” said Cloud.
According to his loved ones, Fraire was a big fan of music. So, at his tribute, the school choir sang in his memory.
His friends also wrote touching memories on a banner that will be made into a scrapbook for his family.
Fraire’s sister, Aurora, also share memories of her older brother.
"He was a really smart guy. He made us feel safe like a big brother should,” she said.
The teenager will be laid to rest Friday.
In the meantime, the deadly crash that took his young life remains under investigation.
Initially, California Highway Patrol believed the accident could’ve resulted from distracted driving and were checking Fraire’s cell phone records.
However, on Thursday, officials confirmed that wasn’t the case.
CHP Officer Kevin Pearlstein told NBC 7 that investigators checked the teen’s phone and determined there was no indication that he was texting or talking on the phone at the time of the fatal crash.
Additionally, speed, drugs or alcohol on the part of both drivers also weren’t factors in the accident.
Officials said Fraire was new to driving. The teen had just gotten his driver’s license last September.
One day before the crash that took his life, authorities said Fraire was involved in another car accident, a rear-end collision.
The Parent Teacher Organization at Steele Canyon High School has established a memorial fund to help support the Fraire family. Donations can be made out to “Mission Federal Credit Union – The Julian Fraire Memorial Fund,” and can be dropped off at either Steele Canyon High School or any Mission Federal Credit Union branch.