NORTH REDLANDS (CBSLA) — An emotional vigil was held Wednesday evening for a North Redlands crossing guard killed while riding his motorized scooter..
Leonard Ortiz ,49, was affectionately known as Bam Bam.
The Redlands man was known for offering a big bubbly smile and “good morning” to every child and adult he came in contact with. He had a big wave for everybody.
Ortiz was fatally struck by a hit-and-run driver around 6:30 a.m. Tuesday while he was riding his scooter to work on Colton Avenue.
KCAL9’s Nicole Comstock reported from the vigil — held at the same cross walk where he kept the students at Lugonia Elementary safe.
To say Ortiz was beloved would be an understatement. The smile is something none of the children will ever forget.
Comstock asked one student how the smile made those students feel,
“Happy,” the student said.
“I remember him as a joyful guy,” said 5th grader Chase Hernandez.
He took the news hard.
“He’s a little sad,” said his mother, “yeah.”
She mentioned that Ortiz remembered her son and remembered his name and that was not unusual for him.
It’s not just hitting the kids hard. Ortiz’s death is also been hard on many of the parents.
“And he was a part of my life you know?.” says Efran Zarate.
“You felt like you were part of his family just by passing him every morning,” says Antoine Rodriguez.
Ortiz was the crossing guard at the intersection for many years.
“When I heard about this, it broke my heart,” Zarate says. “That’s why I came here today.”
Investigators released new security video of a silver or gray Toyota Sequoia or similar SUV. They say that vehicle ran a red light, hit Ortiz, and continued traveling westbound on the 10 Freeway.
“His personality was he would help anyone and you would think that in this circumstance, someone would stop and help him. But unfortunately that wasn’t the case,” said John Rodriguez.
Until that driver is caught and arrested the people who knew and loved Ortiz best — a community of friends he served and strangers he always greeted — is saying goodbye to him the way he would – with a big wave and a smile.