FREMONT, Calif. (KTVU) - A vigil was held Monday night for a high school junior from Fremont who was killed by a suspected drunk driver heading the wrong way.
17-year-old Armando Canales was set to graduate next year at Washington High School in Fremont with dreams to become a firefighter.
The young man was headed to a beach in Santa Cruz over the weekend when he was killed. Hundreds of people gathered at the flag pole in front of Washington High School in Fremont, where Canales was a junior. He was just seen in class last Friday.
“My son was full of life,” said Mother Tina Cacilhas. “I could tell you he would throw that cheesy smile up, always having a smile on his face.”
Canales’s mother spoke to his grieving classmates all of them in a state of shock and sadness. He was described as friend to all, a protector with goals to be a fireman.
“He was so looking forward to graduating and being able to get his license, but that fell short because someone decided to be irresponsible,” said Cacilhas.
Canales was killed when a drunk driver crashed into a car he was riding in early Saturday morning. Authorities said 28-year-old Ashley Marie Oliver of San Jose was driving north in the southbound lanes of Highway 17 near Redwood Estates.
Canales and four of his friends were headed to the beach in Santa Cruz. CHP said he and two other teens in the back seat were not wearing seatbelts.
“Armando wasn't just a friend to me, he was a brother,” said Sophomore Jorden Brown. “He was my family. Every time I needed something he was there for me no matter what.”
Canales was also a student in the Mission Valley Regional Occupational Program studying fire technology.
“We wanted to become firefighters together so bad,” said Junior Julio Valdez.
“He would always say he would take a bullet for me any day,” said Gais Anwari. “The one time he needed me I couldn't be there because someone decided to drink and drive.”
Canales's mother urged the high schoolers to stand together to not drink and drive so other teens like her son aren't taken away far too soon.
“Do not drink and drive, don't do drugs, don't get into a car with someone who is drinking,” said Cacilhas. “I don't want anybody else to go through what I have to go through.”
As for the suspected drunk driver, Ashley Marie Oliver, she faces felony drunk driving and vehicular manslaughter charges. She’s being held in Santa Clara County Jail with bail set at $275,000. Her arraignment is set for Wednesday.