Friends and family of 18-year-old Victor Regalado Jr. begin the painful process of saying goodbye. Several events were held to honor the memory of the teen killed in a car crash on Sunday.
Dozens of friends held a car wash at Lamppost Pizza in La Quinta to raise money for the family. "It's amazing, that's why my son still lives with me," said Victor's mother Yolanda Vasquez. "That's why he's still alive in my heart."
Vasquez was overwhelmed by the support from the community. The car wash also served as an opportunity to hug, mourn and share the loss together. "Remembering Victor, like washing cars and telling stories about how he used to make everyone smile," said Gabriel Lopez, Victor's friend. "It's just good, his memory's going to live on."
Friends brought posters and t-shirts with Victor's face on them. Earlier in the week, students at his high school, Shadow Hills and several other schools across the valley wore white to show their sympathy for the loss. Regalado died at the hospital after getting thrown from the back seat of a jeep near Adams and 40th Avenue in Indio. Police believe alcohol was involved and also believe more teens were in the vehicle and fled the scene. A short time before his death, Victor tweeted, "We drunk driving." "You know there was questions about our parenting," said Victor Regalado Sr., Victor's father. "Obviously we did something good because look at this you know? And this helps."
It helps to know how many people loved his son and support the family. That's the Victor they wanted remembered.
"He always had a smile on his face," said Albert Vasquez, Victor's stepfather. "He was always willing to make friends with whoever, he was easy to get along with."
"You know, it's hard seeing someone we all loved and cherished, the guy who was the main focus of the party, just gone," said Raul Leon, Victor's friend. "That's like the hardest part for all of us."
Hard to know Victor's death could have been prevented. Victor's mother hopes her son's death serves as a wake-up call for others about the dangers of drinking and driving. "They're kids, and I just hope people learn from this," said Vasquez. "And you know, make the right choice next time. You know, just learn from your mistakes."
Victor's friends say they've already made changes. "If you're going to be going out like that, make sure you're safe," said Leon. "You know, have a DD or something you know, at least."
Since the crash, police identified the driver as 18-year-old Derren Gary Teran Jr. The La Quinta high school senior will face charges in Regalado Jr.'s death, along with the others in the vehicle who fled the scene. While the family wants more details on what happened, they want the immediate focus on their son's memory. "One day, we might feel like we need to blame somebody," said Regalado Sr. "You know, we might blame ourselves. But right now, something positive obviously has come out of this, and that's the best feeling."
Victor's friends say, that's how he would've wanted it. "To be mad at him, it's just not right," said Lopez. "I know Victor wouldn't want to be mad at him. Victor would've forgave him. He's the type of person that would forgive anyone."
If you want to pay your respects to Regalado Jr., a wake will be held on Sunday from 5 PM to 10 PM at Forest Lawn Mortuary in Indio. On Monday, at 10:30 AM, the funeral will be held at Our Lady of Soledad Catholic Church in Coachella, with the procession to the cemetery to follow.