Friends Remember Steele Canyon HS Student Julian Fraire

Julian Fraire, 16, drifted into oncoming traffic on his way to school

Investigators are looking into what caused a head-on crash that killed Steele Canyon High School student Julian Fraire Thursday.

Counselors will be on hand Friday to help students and staff deal with the tragedy.

Fraire, 16, was on his way to school when, for some reason, he crossed over the double yellow lane on Steele Canyon Road and ran head-on with a Ford F-450 truck.

The high school junior died at the scene. The driver of the truck was sent to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

California Highway Patrol officers are looking into what distracted Fraire and checking his phone records to see if he was texting and driving at the time.

Authorities told NBC 7 that Fraire was involved in a rear-end collision one day before the fatal crash. He walked away from that wreck but Thursday's crash took his life.

The accident happened at 7:20 a.m. in the 2900 block of Steele Canyon Road just north of Campo Road, about two miles away from the school.

A small but growing memorial and shattered glass marked the spot.

Fraire's good friend Isaac Gonzales was still in disbelief when he talked with NBC 7 Thursday night.

"I thought in my head it couldn't be Julian," he said. "I couldn't process it."

Gonzales and Fraire became fast friends their freshman year at Steele Canyon High.

Over the years he learned to appreciate Fraire's compassion and comedic wit.

He even showed us a business award from the computer repair company Fraire had started. It is a testament, he says, to his friend's "wicked smarts."

"He would talk about physics like it was second grade math," Gonzales said.

Officials said both vehicles were going the speed limit and it does not appear alcohol or drugs were factors.

The fatal collision and Fraire's death has sparked an online petition. Hundreds of students have signed it urging county supervisors to erect barricades dividing the road considering what they call its dangerous history.

In 2010, a 50-year-old volunteer died in a crash near the school, where he was a frequent volunteer. 

According to the petition, the majority of traffic deaths in the area have been from head-on collisions, and the fast speed limit -- combined with the narrow road -- make it easy for cars to drift into oncoming traffic.

"After Julian died yesterday, a bunch of my fellow students were posting about his death and saying another Steele Canyon student died. And it's just really sad to hear that another Steele Canyon student died and that no one should have to die anymore from Steele Canyon," said Jamie Kerlin, who started the movement.

As of Friday evening, the petition had garnered more than 900 signatures. 

In response to the pleas, County Supervisor Dianne Jacob released this statement: 

"My deepest condolences go out to Julian's family and friends. This is a terrible and tragic loss for them and for the entire community. I have not seen the full report on the accident yet, but I’d like to review it, along with any related information, before determining if a barrier is warranted.”

For Gonzales, the death of his friend has proved a painful lesson in the fragility of life.

"You're not invincible," Gonzales said. "You gotta love your loved ones and hold them tight while you have them."

Steele Canyon HS administrators told NBC 7 extra support was scheduled Friday to come in from nearby schools to help students cope with the tragedy.

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