By Elizabeth Hur and Jenn Bernstein
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A memorial was held Sunday night for Christopher Alvelo, 17, who died in a crash while trying to save the life of his stepfather (see previous story).
One of the truck’s passengers, Nick Prendergast, survived the wreck, suffering only a sprained wrist, and was able to attend the memorial. He says he’s certain Alvelo saved his life and revisiting the scene where he lost his childhood friend was an emotional experience:
“It just replays over and over again,” he said.
According to police, a medical condition caused Joseph Snyder, 45, to lose control of his truck. Alvelo unbuckled his seat belt and tried to gain control of the situation.
“Chris grabbed the steering wheel as soon as his dad started hitting the gas,” Prendergast said. “He was yelling at him to wake up, and he just wasn’t waking up.”
Investigators say that’s when the truck jumped the curb and struck a parked paratransit bus.
Alvelo was pronounced dead at the scene. His stepfather and the other passengers, including Prendergast, were taken to the hospital.
“Chris was just, he was an all around great guy,” Prendergast said.
Another friend added, “He would do anything to help anyone out. It’s what he wanted to do when he got out of high school, to join the Air Force and protect and save lives.”
Chris was a senior at the New Foundations Charter School in the Northeast. Alvelo and his friends were on their way home after completing an Eagle Scout project when the accident occurred.
The other survivors of the crash remain in the hospital with broken bones and other various injuries.
On Monday morning, school leadership held an assembly to discuss Chris’ death with students. Counselors will be on hand for anyone that needs support.
“We are a family, and so it’s very hard for all of us to get through this, it’s a terrible tragedy,” said school CEO Paul Stadelberger.
Stadelberger also said Chris was a great student.
“He’s worked very hard. He always had a smile on his face, very polite,” said Stadelberger. “He just was a very personable young man, he stood out in a crowd.”
Students held a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. Monday night in the parking lot of New Foundations Charter School.
A memorial fund has been established in Christopher’s name.
Christopher Alvelo Memorial Fund
c/o Police and Fire Federal Credit Union
901 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107