by Karen Perdue
A vigil for Max Gonzalez was held Friday night in front of the old K-mart building. Family, friends, and members of the foothills communities attended. A vehicle was reported to have made an illegal U-turn in front of his motorcycle, tragically causing his death. He was on his way to the skate park at Sunland Park where he enjoyed spending time with friends and bicycling.
Gonzalez lived in La Crescenta with his mother Lynda Green. Max’s father passed away a couple of months before and he and his mother were still reeling from the loss of his father when the accident took the young man’s life on July 2.
An outpouring of love and compassion for his inconsolable mother was expressed by the community. Many were deeply saddened that Gonzalez lost his life in our town. His sister, Crystal Young, was thankful for the support to help them through this very difficult time. Both women expressed gratitude for every act of kindness shown them. A deputy sheriff traveled from the Briggs station to offer kind words to the family of the young man he’d grown to know as part of his community. A nearby Mexican restaurant across the street provided tamales to the family. Flowers and candles were brought and shared.
A rally was initially scheduled to follow the vigil, but at the family’s request, it was not held that night. The rally was to bring attention to the increase of dangerous and reckless driving that plagues the foothills communities.
Traffic accidents and deaths have skyrocketed in Sunland-Tujunga. A special meeting was held at the North Valley City Hall a couple of weeks ago to address this and other problems — but apparently, nothing came of it.
The spontaneous vigil was quickly organized by local residents to bring friends and neighbors together to make some sense of this terrible tragedy. More than 60 people of all ages came, gave their condolences, lit candles and talked amongst themselves about what a wonderful person Gonzalez was.
One person at the vigil said, “It’s just really good to see everyone get together, you know, no matter what,” he said. “Everyone here considered Max a friend.”
The gathering was filled with some laughter, some tears, some moments of quiet as the realization that their friend was gone. A small group of STNC members were quietly talking and one said, “As a community, this should be a major red flag going up, as like: why do we have this many fatalities?” One woman said in defense of the LAPD, “We only have so many cops. There’s not enough cops for every intersection, so it really comes down to increasing our enforcement, education, talking with city and county engineers about the engineering of future streets, but it’s really about being engaged as a community member.”
People are just driving crazy, another person said. “All I want is for people to look both ways and to stop at stop signs, because it literally could save somebody’s life,” she said. The driver who hit Gonzalez has not yet been cited by police.
“They say that time heals all wounds, but right now, quite honestly, many of us are thinking there’s just not enough time in eternity. There’s so much pain and suffering because people are distracted or just flat-out speeding.”
The vigil was organized by a few people in the community who wanted to show support to the family of the victim. “Basically, we’ve just got a few people in our community and our hearts are broken. They were looking for a way to show support to the family, to show support for each other. It’s really been an organic event, not one real organizer, just everybody coming together and wanting to come out and show their support for Max’s family,” said a friend and mourner of Gonzalez.
A makeshift memorial has sprung up at the scene of the crash on Foothill Boulevard and Rhodesia Avenue. People have left photos, signs, candles, flowers and crosses to honor Gonzalez.
A GoFundMe Page memorial fund by Robert Faulkner has been set-up to help the family, and it may be found at www.gofundme.com/ MaxGMemorial.