Tue, Oct 30 2012 02:24 PM Posted By: Allison K. Sampité-montecalvo
A memorial fund was set up this week to help pay for the funeral expenses of Hilltop High School freshman Justin Hertzberg, who was struck and killed by a car.
The account was established Monday after the 14-year-old fell off his skateboard and into oncoming traffic last Wednesday at approximately 6:45 p.m., in the 800 block of Nacion Avenue in Chula Vista.
Hilltop High’s peer group, Connect Crew, is coordinating Justin’s memorial fund along with Hilltop students and staff to raise money for his family.
The school has so far raised nearly $4,000.
Hilltop High principal Ernie Zamudio said while the tragedy has been difficult for students, they are coping.
“Everyone is doing a lot better than when it first occurred,” Zamudio said Monday. “There’s a couple of students still receiving (counseling) support.”
The school district’s crisis response team, which consists of administrators, counselors, principals and others, was called to help emotional students handle with the loss.
“We also have peer counselors who are seniors and juniors that support us in talking to the kids also in case they don’t want to talk to an adult,” he said.
Justin’s tragic death ironically occurred hours before the school’s first skate club meeting. Although Justin was listed as a member, he did not attend.
Multimedia/video production teacher and skate club advisor Sophia Gray said to her knowledge, this is the first time this type of club has been formed.
“The purpose of the club is to make students aware of safety first,” Gray said. “It’s about getting students to understand that safety is important with skateboarding ... it can be done at places like skate parks instead of places like the street.”
Gray also spoke to the importance of wearing a helmet and said the discussion will be a priority at the next meeting.
“If they’re going to be skateboarding, they need to be wearing their helmet,” she said.
Gray said the club would normally meet once a month, but because of the incident, it plans to meet next week to discuss the importance of skateboarding safety as well as fundraising efforts for Justin’s funeral costs.
When Chula Vista police officers responded to a call of a serious traffic collision Oct. 24 they found Justin unconscious in the street.
Justin, who was not wearing a helmet, was transported to UCSD Medical Center and later pronounced dead from his injuries.
On Friday night, during the Lancer’s homecoming game, a moment of silence was held in Justin’s honor and memory.
The following day, between 200 and 250 students, school employees, friends and family and community members participated in a candlelight vigil held on campus.
To make a donation, write a check payable to: Justin Hertzberg memorial fund. They can be mailed or dropped off at the school located at 555 Claire Drive in Chula Vista. Donations can also be made at Mission Federal Credit Union, located at 354 East H St. in Chula Vista.
The story was updated on Nov. 1.
© 2009 The Star-News