POMONA (CBSLA) — Peter Smith Padilla, a fun-loving sailor, had already served six years in the U.S. Navy and had just reenlisted to serve at least another five.
“I was proud,” Juan Padilla, the 26-year-old’s father, said. “When I used to go on the base, this is part of me, because it’s part of my son.”READ MORE: ‘Sex And The City’ & 'White Collar' Actor Willie Garson Dies At 57
But Monday was a gut-wrenching day for the older Padilla, whose son had just come back home to Pomona for vacation.
“And this is how his vacation turned out,” he said.
Smith Padilla was killed early Sunday morning in East Los Angeles. According to witnesses, he was skateboarding down a hill when he collided with a Metro Los Angeles bus. His father said he fell down just before impact and slid under the rear tires.
Investigators with the California Highway Patrol said the bus driver ran him over and continued driving, not realizing what happened. When the bus driver was stopped in El Monte, CHP determined the man’s death was a tragic accident and not an intentional hit-and-run.
“That’s Peter, just spontaneous,” Padilla said. “Always trying to do something, be happy and make everybody laugh.”
At a Monday night vigil, his family wanted to focus not on the way he died, but rather on how happy he made everyone feel when he was alive.READ MORE: Homeless Man Steals Truck, Severely Injures Woman In Downtown LA Hit-And-Run
“When he was there, he made everything feel so much better,” Johnny Padilla, the sailor’s little cousin said. “Anything was down, he would be the one that brings my spirits up.”
Smith Padilla was a role model to Johnny, and a constant source of pride for his four siblings.
“He made a big impact on many people’s lives, and I don’t think he quite realized that,” Nathaniel Padilla, his older brother, said.
“He’s the most outstanding, lovable, joyful caring person you can even imagine,” Luke Padilla, their younger brother, said.
Smith Padilla also found camaraderie playing travel rugby for the city of Hawaiian Gardens, and his family took time to celebrate his kindness and accomplishments, but also thank those who have reached out to them in support.
“I just want to thank all his friends, the sailors, everyone,” Scottlyn Padilla, his sister, said. “All the messages, calls, we all appreciate it.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to support his family, something the organizer said the sailor would have done if the roles were reversed.MORE NEWS: Thousands Expected To Participate In 'More Than Pink Walk' To Raise Awareness And Funds In Fight Against Breast Cancer Saturday
“He served his country, you know, he just wanted to do good,” Daneil Delatorree, Smith Padilla’s cousin, said. “Like my sister said, to spread positivity and leave an impression, and I think he did.”