By Robin GOLDSWORTHY
Friends and family on Friday evening came to remember Max Gonzalez, 21, who was involved in a traffic collision while riding his motorcycle on July 2 in the 8000 block of Foothill Boulevard in Sunland. Gonzalez was traveling southwest along Foothill when he was struck by a woman driving a Mercedes. Witnesses said she made a sudden U-turn crossing five lanes of traffic at around 1:45 p.m. causing Gonzalez to smash into the side of her car.
He was transported to a local hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries.
“He never had a chance,” said Lynda Greene, Gonzalez’s mother, who attended the Friday evening vigil held in front of the former Kmart site parallel to where her son was struck.
Around 40 people came to the vigil, organized by local resident Karen Perdue.
“I wanted a chance to say we’re sorry as a community,” said Perdue of the reason behind her decision to organize Friday night’s event. “I felt their pain.” She added that during the July 4th parade, the parade paused and saluted at the site of the accident.
Among those who attended Friday’s vigil was Michael Worthington of La Cañada who has known the family “for years.”
“This is a tough one,” Worthington said of Gonzalez’s death. Greene worked with Worthington and Worthington watched both of her children grow up.
The family has had its share of grief already this year; Gonzalez’s father died in January.
Gonzalez was known throughout the foothills’ community. He attended Lincoln Elementary, Rosemont Middle School and Options for Youth. Sheriff’s deputy JR Ruiz had come to know the family before Gonzalez’s father died and would caution Gonzalez about driving his motorcycle on local streets.
“I told him to be safe about it,” Ruiz said. “I had a heart-to-heart with him.” Ruiz interacts with many young people in the sheriff’s area of the valley, either through his work or as a softball coach.
“To me, they’re like my kids,” he said. “This [incident] is more personal to me.”
Also at the vigil was Maggie Priest, who had dated Gonzalez. She flew in from Spain where she is studying after she heard the news of his death.
“I always considered him a friend,” she said.
Robert Faulkner was another longtime friend of Gonzalez’s. Looking at the photos brought to the vigil, he said the whole thing was “surreal.” He has since established a gofundme page to help with the funeral expenses.
“He was such a giving soul. He made friends with everybody. He loved tater tots and pizza. He made me laugh,” Greene said of her son. “This shouldn’t have happened.”
To donate to the family visit https://www.gofundme.com/maxgmemorial.