A car struck and killed 12-year-old Gerardo Munoz Galvan on Monday as he and a friend were crossing N.C. 42 to play basketball.
With a week left on winter break, the two were crossing the rain-dampened roadway to the playground at West Clayton Elementary School when a westbound car hit Galvan.
Police don’t think the 12-year-old ever saw the car that him, and they won’t charge the driver. The other boy was not injured.
Galvan was a sixth-grader at Clayton Middle School. His stepsister, Leslye Benitez-Helton, described him as athletic and loving, someone who made friends easily.
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“He loved sports; he was always playing basketball and soccer,” Benitez-Helton said. “He was very friendly, and there were a lot of people who loved him. He was always hugging and kissing people; he was very affectionate.”
Benitez-Helton said Tuesday that her family had been in shock since the accident.
“We’re very hurt,” she said. “It’s very tragic, and it happened very fast.”
Friends, family and the greater Clayton community have rallied around Galvan’s family. Benitez-Helton set up a GoFundMe page Monday night to help cover funeral expenses. Within 36 hours, 100 donors had pledged more than $6,000.
“You’re not expecting a 12-year-old to die, and his parents did not have the funds for a funeral,” Benitez-Helton said. “We want to give him the best goodbye we possibly can. Friends and family got in touch with us, asking if there was anything they could do. So I set up the fund, and people can help pitch in financially.”
Galvan’s death resonated with donors who had never met him, compelling some to contribute based simply on the bond of motherhood.
“From parents to parents. We do not know you but are connected through the love of our children,” one $25 donor wrote.
Clayton Middle School principal Jocell Flores encouraged students struggling with the death of Galvan to contact the school for counseling.
“The entire Clayton Middle family is grieving the tragic loss of our student,” Flores said. “He was dearly loved by students and staff.”
In their decision not to press charges, investigators examined the driver’s cell phone for evidence of calls or texting, studied the scene of the accident and interviewed witnesses, said Clayton public information officer Stacy Beard. Galvan was hit around 4 p.m. Monday, in front ofAlta Mobile Home Park, where he lived with his family.
Beard said the driver initially didn’t know what she had hit but pulled over to the side of the road. Fire, police and paramedics responding to the scene tried to resuscitate Galvan but could not.
Clayton had gone more than three years without a pedestrian fatality, with just two people injured by cars in 2014, four in 2013 and three in 2012.
The funeral for Galvan was Thursday. Those wishing to contribute to the GoFundMe page can visit https://www.gofundme.com/53gnyg58.
Drew Jackson: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104; @jdrewjackson