El Paso, TX (KDBC) — The West El Paso community gathered today at Franklin high school to grieve the loss of one of their own. As we've reported, 16-year-old Alonza Perez died after a crash last week and Irvin Barba was seriously injured. Friends of Irvin Barba tell us he's doing much better and is currently recovering. And while the community is optimistic about Barba, they're grieving for Perez's family.
Dozens of community members held lit candles and held back tears as they remembered 16-year-old Alonzo Perez.
"He was just a great part of my life,” Karissa Corral, Perez’s friend told us.
"Honestly, I was shocked. I was lost for words,” Williams Stevens, another friend said.
"It's so hard to explain. An emptiness because it's not just in the heart… but the soul,” Ricardo Laca Sr., explained through tears. Laca is Alonzo's Grandfather and on Monday, he wore his grandson's smile on a t-shirt memorializing the teen. "It helps to see his big smile. That's what I would always see his smile."
As we've reported, Alonzo died in a car crash last Thursday afternoon on Resler and Blackridge.
"I drove by the accident probably ten minutes after it happened and I was… I had nothing to say,” Stevens told us.
The teen and his passenger, Irvins Parba, may have been racing before Perez's car crashed into a light pole, according to police. The impact was so great it split the car in two. "We're still upset. We're still trying to get through it together as a student body and everything,” Rebecca Martinez, a student at Franklin High School said.
Parba was hospitalized in critical condition, his friends tell us he's doing much better. "I wish him well. I know he's recovering and that's fantastic,” Perez’s grandfather said.
Meanwhile, Perez's death is still striking the hearts of the many people who knew him.
"Alonzo made a big impact on a lot of people's lives and we see that by the turnout today,” Gisela Sarellano, Perez’s Godmother said.
But with so many people coming out to support the family, "But at least I have my memories,” Laca said. The teen's smile lives on.
Alonzo Perez’s viewing is scheduled for Wednesday from 5 pm to 9 pm at the Sunset Funeral Home on Resler. His funeral is set for Thursday morning at Saint Francis of Assisi on Doniphan. If you would like to help the family with funeral costs, you can go to any Wells Fargo in the city, ask for the In Memory of Alonzo Perez account (Account Number 6356917119) to donate.