SAN JACINTO (CBSLA.com) — Just days before graduation, a local school is in mourning.
On Sunday, Mountain View High School senior Daniel Lopez was in a car accident and later died at a hospital.
Graduation at the school is Wednesday, and one seat will be left empty in his honor.
Daniel’s dad, Daniel Lopez Sr., was by his side when he passed away.
“He said, ‘Dad, I’m going to make you proud.’ I said, ‘Son, I’m already proud of you no matter what,'” Lopez remembered.
“He said, ‘I love you, pa. I love you, ma.’ He knew he wasn’t coming back. He said, ‘Goodbye, dad.’ ”
Daniel’s sister Denise was driving the car. The 20-year-old is in intensive care and doesn’t know her brother was killed.
“We’re not telling her until she gets better,” Lopez said.
Denise and Daniel’s brother Glen survived the accident, along with three friends.
The group was heading to the beach when they say a speeding motorcycle slammed into the side of their car, killing the motorcyclist and, later, Daniel.
“He did everything right. Everything. He worked so hard,” Lopez remembered proudly. “He was the best son we could’ve ever had. I couldn’t ask for a better son than Daniel.”
The Lopez family describes their son as a huge Angels fan, and one his graduation presents was a trip to a game.
“I want to put all Angels memorabilia in his casket because he would want that.”
Daniel’s father will accept his son’s diploma at Wednesday’s graduation ceremony.
In a statement released by the school Tuesday, Spencer Holtom, director of student, community and personnel support, said the teenager “will not be forgotten.”
“Daniel Lopez was an inspiring student who had visions of going to college and beyond,” Holtom said.
“His ultimate goal was to be able to take care of his family once he finished his education. Daniel was a late bloomer who by his senior year really matured into a great young man. He was so excited about graduating and was working with his school counselor to take the SATs and applying for spring semester at an out-of-state college. He was known by students and staff as being a kind and caring students who was happy helping others. He will be missed, and the school plans to honor him at graduation Wednesday evening. An empty chair will be placed in his honor. His father will be receiving his diploma and scholarship on his behalf. He will not be forgotten.”