Death of teen adds somber touch to coming Kerman High graduation

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A memorial with more than one hundred candles is at the site of the accident that claimed the life of 17-year-old Abel Lopez. (KFSN)

A memorial with more than one hundred candles is at the site of the accident that claimed the life of 17-year-old Abel Lopez.

The Kerman High School Senior was heading east on Jensen Avenue, near Trinity Friday evening. The California Highway Patrol says he was driving about 55 miles per hour when his car hit a slow-moving tractor pulling a cultivator.

Teresa Taylor saw it happen, "I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I ran to the kid to see if he was okay, but he was gone."

A candlelight vigil Sunday drew hundreds in Kerman. School Superintendent Robert Frausto says help for those grieving was available during Monday's graduation practice. He said the district, "sent out all our psychologists, our counselors." Administrators say help will be accessible all week.

Kerman High Principal Pam Sellick says the students are pulling together, "They are very saddened by it, but they also know it would be important, in Abel's honor, to do a really nice graduation this Thursday. They are somber, but they realize that in his name, in his memory they are going to be well prepared on Thursday."

The CHP is still investigating the cause of the accident. Often accidents like this are caused when a car driving at highway speed comes upon a slow-moving tractor and is unable to stop in time.

Dennis Jorgenson lives near where the accident occurred. He told Action News, "I don't see why he couldn't see the tractor, you know? It's too bad. He just wasn't thinking or something."

Between 2013 and 2016, 265 fatal accidents were reported across the U.S. involving farm equipment, that's according to national traffic statistics compiled by the Daily Journal, a newspaper in Indiana.

This death serves as a somber warning to Kerman High School Junior Jesus Saldana, "I didn't really know him, but it's still sad for me that someone I went to high school with had to pass away and just a couple days before graduation."

Abel Lopez was the youngest of three children. He was planning to join the military after graduation.
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traffic fatalitiesagriculturegraduationKerman
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