SAN BERNARDINO (CBSLA) — An emotional vigil was held Saturday in memory of 14-year-old Jade Maldonado — fatally struck by a hit-and-run driver as she walked to school yesterday morning.
Her heartbroken family is again asking how the driver of an SUV could hit their “wonder woman” and speed off without rendering aid.
KCAL9’s Cristy Fajardo spoke to Maldonado’s family and classmates.
The family called her their wonder woman because despite being so young, Maldonado had a lot on her plate. Besides being an A student, she was her disabled mother’s caregiver. If that wasn’t enough, she donated bone marrow to a younger brother. She was the champion of another brother who has autism.
A teacher remembered as always being helpful and cheerful and selfless.
“She was the smartest kid I know,” said friend Isabel Rico trying to hold back tears. She was one of many. Those assembled remembered the girl as a stellar student and a stellar human being.
Maldonado might not have realized just how much she was loved. But her grieving parents now have no doubt.
On the lawn of Pacific High School Saturday night, classmates and former teachers could not keep from crying.
“We overheard a student tell Jade you;re so smart and Jade said ‘No, I’m not smart. I work hard.’ And that was her ethic. That was her ethic, to never settle. So when we heard it was at 7:10, we were not shocked because she was getting here early to do what she does, to succeed, fight, to be amazing,” said 8th grade teacher Crystal Edmonson.
On Friday just like every day, Maldonado headed into school early at the same crosswalk. Police say she was hit and killed by a tan SUV.
“It hurts me so much to think,” says Rico, “that one day you’ll wake up all happy and knowing you’re going to live and have this life ahead of you and not knowing that your life could end right there in that second of time.”
“I just miss my daughter I want to get her back but I’ll never get her back,” says Maldonado’s mother Cynthia.
She says she’s trying to hold it together But it was a photo given to her at the vigil that finally brought her to tears.
Before the academic year started, the school had students write themselves a letter and take a picture depicting their future. Maldonado wore a smile and was clearly planning her graduation
“I’ll never see her walk but I’ll see what she would have looked like in a cap and gown,” says her mom. “So I thank the school for that.”
The family has set up a GoFundMe account to help pay for funeral expenses. At this writing, about $6,400 of an $8,000 goal was reached. Click here for more.