MADERA, Calif. -- A boy in central California died one day after turning 11 years old, following a truck crash into his family's home.
Authorities say that at 9:20 a.m. Saturday, a 36-year-old man was driving his truck southbound on Road 37 in Madera, Calif., when he had a medical emergency, causing him to drift into the other lane. The truck entered the shoulder and hit a propane tank. The tank then launched the car into the home's garage, which had been converted into a bedroom.
"There w(ere) two children ages 11 and 9 sleeping in the room on a bunk bed. The truck landed on top of the children," said California Highway Patrol Officer Rafael Rivera.
Anthony Lopez was driving by the area and witnessed the aftermath.
"I get outside, and I see everybody panicking. And I see cars getting off the driveway, and I see everybody crying and say, 'Hey, is everything OK?' And they said no, somebody is stuck," said Lopez.
The 9-year-old boy was rescued by the fire department, but the 11-year-old boy, named by his family as Tito, was pinned under the truck. Tito and the driver both died.
CHP says the accident could have been much worse given the circumstances.
"It was a pretty chaotic scene when we all first arrived. It is a huge propane tank, and it was still leaking, so you had the danger of the propane being lit and exploding," said Officer Rivera.
Friends and family are trying to do whatever they can to help the family in their time of grief.
"Really from the bottom of my heart, I hope they make it through this and they all stick together as one because that's the only way you can get through something as tragic as this," Lopez said.
Tito's family lives on the road named after his uncle, Raul Moncada, an army sergeant killed by an IED in Iraq in 2009.
In fact, the family was gathering Saturday to mark his birthday but instead came to mourn another loss. They also lost Raul, Sr., in a train crash in 2014.
They are not mourning alone.
Counselors and psychologists comforted students at Webster Elementary, the boys' school, and fellow students decorated a poster.
"I think the biggest story is what our community has done over the last three days to support this family," said school superintendent Andrew Alvarado. "It's been unbelievable, the outreach."
Friends and strangers delivered food to the house, and they have donated more than $18,000 to a GoFundMe account.
They have also reached out to help the driver's family. A witness says it looked like Thomas Canton had a seizure just before the crash.
Friends said the 36-year-old loved trucks, his quad and the outdoors.
He had a 16-year-old daughter, who's also in the thoughts and prayers of Madera Ranchos neighbors, like the one visiting B&D Holiday Center to pick out gifts for the children left behind.
"Tremendous turnout yesterday," said B&D's Bob Hill of the gift drive with toys for the children listed on cards and placed on a Christmas tree. "There were probably close to 25 to 30 of them and there are only four or five left."
We talked to some of Tito's family members who said he was a straight-A student and a gifted soccer player.
His bedroom will get a complete remodel, with Home Depot donating the supplies and local contractors volunteering to do the work.
Boy dies day after 11th birthday when truck slams into family's home