PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - Brian Pelletire was emotional he told us about how he found out long time friend Eric Strzelczyk was gone. "At first I didn't think it was real," Brian says. "And I called his cell phone, it was kind of just weird. And then making sure like hey man, heard some bad news, call me if you can. And then ten minutes later I got a call like yea it's for sure. So that was...I just can't believe it."
That feeling of shock was universal as friends and family gathered Monday night to mourn Eric Strzelczyk's passing with a candlelight vigil.
But, also shared was the memory of how great a person he was to everyone who knew him.
Eric's father Ed Strzelczyk describes him, "Eric was a happy go lucky kid. He was full of life. And he just loved being around people. He loved the Air Force. He loved flying. And his family and his friends. I mean, just the spirit of the moment."
The crowd embraced one another as they lit candles, told stories, and left Eric messages and pictures on a poster board. All to let the musician, mechanic, pilot, veteran and friend know how much he meant.
A fellow service man and officer in the Air Force, Major Paul Egbalic tells us, "Erick was a model citizen, true American and a friend to all. He will truly be missed. And he definitely, actually was a hero."
Just a day earlier Eric was killed when a white Ford Ranger turned in front of his motorcycle. The driver fled the scene on foot.
But, Eric's father says his son would not want those who knew him to be angry.
Ed says, "Were not angry people. If my son was here he would not be a vengeful person. I can't live like that."
Eric's father also was overwhelmed with how many people had their lives touched by his son, wondering how many more he could have touched had he lived past 29.
Ed continues, "I pray that anyone who has children, that this would not happen to them. They should, we should out live our kids."
Police are still actively looking for the suspect and have named William Dominguez Lopez a person of interest in the crash.
Police believe he may have witnessed the crash and may reside in cathedral city.
Anyone with information is being urged to either contact police or Valley Crime Stoppers at (760)341-STOP, you can remain anonymous.