SAN FRANCISCO - Family and friends of a beloved educator at a San Francisco elementary school said they are in disbelief that the 30-year-old was struck and killed by a driver.
They said Andrew Zieman was passionate about helping children.
"What I would give to have him back in my life, to be able to hear his jokes," said cousin Alex Zieman, "I miss him like crazy."
Zieman arrived from out of state Thursday to join the family in mourning the loss of Andrew.
He said he's still trying to come to terms with the death of Andrew just steps from Sherman Elementary in the Cow Hollow neighborhood where he worked as a paraeducator, a school that he attended as a boy.
"I probably will never going to be the same to be honest with you," said Zieman.
There is now a memorial at the intersection where Andrew was killed, with heartfelt messages from his students.
Shortly before 8 o'clock Wednesday morning, Andrew was struck and killed by a car at Franklin and Union streets.
It appears he was either going to or leaving a corner store when a female driver, possibly older, crashed her car into another vehicle, causing it to jump the curb, pinning Andrew to the wall.
Police have not confirmed the details.
"Cars just fly down that hill," said Adrienne Yang, Andrew's girlfriend.
She said there've been many accidents at that intersection due to drivers speeding.
When she worked at Sherman Elementary with Andrew they would often walk to the corner market.
"He would always make sure that I was safe, walking first and holding his hand out for me to make sure that I was safe," said Yang.
She said he took great pride in working with children, especially those with autism and other challenges.
"It is emotionally draining. It is taxing working in a school. You create a bond with the kids. But no matter what, he never ever said he wanted to quit," said Yang.
Andrew was taking online classes at City College to eventually become a credentialed teacher.
Loved ones said Andrew was passionate about performing rap music he wrote. They described him as artistic, soft-spoken, and patient.
His cousin said the night before Andrew was killed, Andrew asked him to come work at Sherman Elementary to help children.
"To lose someone so caring and just wanted to better the world, it was devastating to me," said Zieman.
The principal sent out a letter to parents, informing them that there will be a crisis response team to respond to the emotional needs of students and staff Friday.
Since there was no school Thursday due to the holiday, the principal said she will lead a circle in Friday morning to talk to the children about Andrew Zieman's death.