Gabriel Garate: Long Beach boy, 7, dies in dad's arms after being hit by pickup truck while crossing street
James Barnes, 57, the driver of the pickup, was subsequently detained by police on charges of felony automotive homicide with gross incompetence
LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA: A 7-year-old boy was involved in a horrible accident that claimed his life on Tuesday evening, July 26, while crossing the street with his father. Gabriel Garate had been picked up from school around three o'clock by his aunt, after which they went to Holé Molé, a restaurant, where he placed an order for tacos, one of his favourite dishes.
According to his family, his aunt left him off at his father's Long Beach home a couple of hours later. Gabriel and his father, Francisco Garate, left home to cross a few blocks to go to the baseball pitch because Gabriel was eager to practice at Stearns Champions Park.
According to investigators, a 2005 Dodge pickup truck's driver failed to signal when he made a left turn and struck Gabriel as they were crossing the Lakewood Boulevard intersection at around 5:22 p.m. Gabriel passed away in the street with his baseball equipment close by. Francisco said on Wednesday, July 27, "All I could do was hold him in my arms and tell him, ‘My baby, my baby'. He was my little buddy. We did everything together." According to the police, "the father and juvenile were in the crosswalk with the right-of-way pedestrian signal when the incident occurred."
James Barnes, 57, the driver of the pickup vehicle, was subsequently detained by police on charges of felony automotive homicide with gross incompetence. Barnes, who is out on a $50,000 bond, declined to comment when the Long Beach Post reached out to him. Gabriel's family said they are still processing the tragedy that appeared to happen out of nowhere as they assembled at a curbside monument. "It was a green light. We were doing everything right. It should have never happened," Francisco further expressed.
Who was Gabriel Garate?
Gabriel was born in Torrance, LA, on March 13, 2015. He and his father resided in Long Beach, and he went to Bixby Elementary School. He was scheduled to start the second grade there in the autumn. His father Francisco recalled what an amazing kid Gabriel was. "He was smart, but he had a goofy personality," he said. Gabriel's interests evolved as he grew. By the time he was 7, he was certain he wanted to play baseball, but he also had aspirations of becoming a video game developer. According to his family, he played video games like Dark Souls, Fortnite, and Minecraft with his father for extended periods of time. According to Francisco, "He would say, 'Dad, I’m so good. I’m seven years old and I passed Dark Souls, by the time I’m an adult, I’m going to be a gaming god.'"
Gabriel wasn't like other children his age, according to his aunt, Jennifer Engel. She claimed he frequently discussed subjects that were complex for a young person. "He was just such a happy kid," said Engel. Residents have been expressing their condolences at a temporary monument set up on the sidewalk close to the collision site ever since it happened. More than 20 family members and friends of Gabriel assembled there on Wednesday afternoon for a memorial. They sobbed, held each other, and sang hymns in his honor.
Gabriel’s grandmother cried out in Spanish: "Ay mi bebe, ay mi bebe," over and over again, sobbing. "Solo lo quiero agarrar," she wailed out, which meant she wanted to hold him. Gabriel's family has set up a GoFundMe campaign to pay for the funeral costs. As of July 30, it had raised $27,695 against the goal amount of $20,000.