EASTON, Calif. (KSEE) – An emotional vigil mourned the loss of a young Central Valley football player Friday.
A few hundred people gathered at John Ventura Stadium at Washington Union High School to remember Ernesto “Neto” Garin. The 16-year-old was tragically killed Thursday night in a car crash at Jefferson and Walnut.
Teammates said they are now focused on carrying on his legacy.
“There’s no replacing Neto. There’s no replacing Neto that was my best friend all these guys right here, best friends. It was a brotherhood out here,” Nathan Lopez his teammate said.
The Panthers took the field Friday night, but not for their home opener as planned, instead, they stood together with the community to mourn the loss of one of their own.
“We’re here to mourn and celebrate at the same time, you know? It’s about bringing our community together and leaning on each other,” Randy Morris the superintendent of Washington Unified School District said.
Lopez said shortly after Neto left a team dinner Thursday night he got a call he had been in a crash. Lopez said he figured it was minor, but went to the scene to find Neto had been killed.
“We started calling everybody and we just came, started crying, everybody was holding each other saying prayers,” he said.
Neto was a junior and wore number 40. Head Coach Paul Holland said he was an old soul with a magnetic personality.
“He’s the kid that if you’re a parent you want to say that’s my son,” he said.
The loss is now being felt throughout the entire community, but teammates said Neto will always be with them on the field. They said every game going forward will be dedicated to him.