California Highway Patrol officers say 22-year-old Jessica Morris was driving a Ford truck when she failed to stop at a stop sign at Alta and Dinuba avenues near Reedley.
Miguel Perez Sr. told Action News that his son was going to pick up the birthday cake with his aunt and then head to the party. They never made it. Instead, the family gathered there at the tragic scene.
Flowers and kite string mark the spot where 10-year-old Miguel Perez Jr.'s life ended. By the time school began Monday, many students already knew what happened to Miguel because several stopped at the crash scene Sunday to discover the young boy killed was their friend.
Administrators say Miguel had only attended school at Sheridan Elementary this year, but during that time he made a lot of friends and excelled in class.
"I think just very well liked, very popular, a friend to everybody," said MaryAnn Carousso with the Kings Canyon Unified School District. "So, it's always hard to lose kids, but I think a student who fits that kind of description, the ripples of the loss are felt a little further even at the school site."
CHP investigators do not believe the driver of the truck was under the influence of drugs or alcohol when she broadsided the Honda Civic. Miguel was in the front passenger seat. Officers say he was wearing a seat belt, but the impact killed him, according to witnesses, almost instantly.
Miguel's siblings also go to the same school, so all staff members were told early Monday what happened, and a note was sent home to parents.
School officials say Miguel's character stood out, and he recently received an award for being on task.
"Super student, very bright academically, friendly; already was a superstar citizen of the month, Sheridan Stars, they call them, the month the teachers were selecting for the value of cooperation," said Carousso.
Miguel's aunt was hurt in the crash, but family members say she is home from the hospital and having a very difficult time coping with the traumatic memories and sad outcome.
Miguel's father told Action News that the one thing he wanted everyone to know about his son was he was the greatest son a father could ever have.