Former teachers of a young South Bay student who died from a brain tumor last month are rallying behind his grieving family after an unusual disruption at the boy’s funeral last week.
Nicolas Curiel Maldonado, an 11-year-old 5th-grader at Hawking’s Charter School, passed away on Oct. 25, according to a GoFundMe page set up by loved ones.
“I can speak with certainty that everyone in that church, at that moment, immediately started thinking of the family,” said Ashley Boyle, Maldonado’s former 2nd-grade teacher.
At Maldonado’s funeral last Thursday, a man unexpectedly burst into the church, and to the shock of everyone in attendance, stopped at the altar in the middle of the funeral service. The man was the subject of a pursuit by Sheriff’s deputies.
Deputies immediately cleared the church and arrested the suspect.
“It was very, very, scary. The first thing that popped into my mind was the children that were there,” said Liliana Martinez, Maldonado’s former kindergarten teacher.
“We had all really hoped that this could be a cathartic time for the family, a great day remembering Nicolas. It was heartbreaking and unbelievable,” Boyle said.
The teachers are hoping to change the focus of the story from the unusual chase to the family as they grieve the loss of Nicolas.
“He had a beautiful smile and he was always kind to everyone,” Martinez said.
“A smile that could light up a room. Very creative, very artistic, very well-spoken for a little one,” said Boyle.
As if the emotional pain of losing a young child isn’t enough, the family has another young son who’s been diagnosed with cancer and had to have a leg amputated to stop the cancer from spreading, according to the fundraising page.
“Going through this hard moment, it was just heartbreaking. The first thing I thought of when I came out the church was how do we help them,” said Martinez.
The family’s GoFundMe page is titled Curiel Maldonado Family Fund.
“We can’t do anything to change what’s happened, but what I would love to see is a community rally behind them, to support them emotionally, financially, spiritually, so they can move to a place of healing,” said Boyle.