On the one-week anniversary of the fatal collision that killed 13-year-old Graham Middle School student Andre Retana, dozens of family members, friends, local leaders and community members gathered Thursday, March 24, for a silent vigil near the site of the crash to reflect on the tragedy and honor his life.
The crowd stood in a line along El Camino Real to the west of the Grant Road intersection, where the collision occurred, and held a moment of silence, with many holding signs reading "Andre." Some of those assembled then walked the route to Graham Middle School, where he'd been headed on his bike.
His father Ryan Lara led the procession, holding a large framed photo of Andre in his baseball uniform, which he placed among a cluster of flower bouquets under a tree in front of Graham.
Born at El Camino Hospital, Lara said his son grew up in Mountain View and was an outgoing kid who was close with his family, particularly his younger brother.
"He's the best big brother ever," Lara said. "He's really, really sweet and caring."
Lara described his son as someone who had a big heart and always wanted to find a way to help, befriending a wide group of people.
"As a little kid, he never had a shy bone in his body and he still didn't," Lara said.
Andre was a "die-hard" sports fan, constantly watching Golden State Warriors, San Francisco Giants and 49ers games, Lara said. He played baseball and basketball, and couldn't wait to start football at Mountain View High School next year.
He also loved school and got a 4.0 GPA multiple times, Lara said. Once, Andre was sent home sick from school, but convinced his parents that he was feeling well enough to go back the following day, only to be sent home again, his dad said.
In the past week, a large memorial has sprung up at the crash site, with loved ones leaving flower bouquets, candles, toys and balloons. The sidewalk is covered in chalk remembrances including "Forever in Our Hearts" and "Best Cousin Ever."
Over a thousand people have also contributed more than $100,000 to a GoFundMe campaign to help support Andre's family.
Andre was riding his bike to school and died after a collision with a truck at the busy intersection of Grant Road and El Camino Real on the morning of Thursday, March 17. The Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner's Office identified him by his legal name of George Oseida, but he was widely known as Andre Retana. His family was planning to have his name legally changed, his father said.
Mountain View Whisman school board President Laura Blakely attended Thursday's vigil and said in an interview after that the tragedy has reverberated throughout the community.
"It's just so incredibly sad and I feel for every kid and every parent and every family – this could have been any of us," Blakely said. "I wish and I hope that there is something that we can do to perhaps prevent future tragedies."
Blakely said she is interested in potential safety improvements that could be made to the road, as well as an emphasis on both bicycle and car safety. She said that it's frustrating how long it takes to get changes made on roads.
The city of Mountain View is scheduled to host a Zoom meeting tonight, March 24, to discuss the city's strategy for eliminating traffic fatalities by 2030. The meeting was scheduled before last week's fatal collision.
Magali Gauthier contributed reporting to this article.
on Mar 24, 2022 at 3:41 pm
on Mar 24, 2022 at 3:41 pm
My heart goes out to Andre's parents, Andre sounds like he was simply a terrific kid. May I share some evidence that his loss has made an impact on the community? As I was taking my daily walk yesterday, I noticed that at every intersection where a driver was about to make a right-hand turn and I was crossing their path, they showed me hyper vigilance and hyper respect. It felt like they were on their best behavior in tribute to Andre. I just wanted to share that. Hopefully much more good will come out of this absolutely awful moment.