Community of Avenal mourning boy killed in crash

FRESNO, Calif.

Ten-year-old Even Perez died Saturday morning while riding to a football game in Los Banos with his mother and four other children.

The crash happened on Interstate 5 near Derrick Avenue in the Coalinga area.

The Highway Patrol says a tire blow-out caused Even's mother to lose control, and their SUV flipped over.

Even died at the scene, and the other children were injured. Investigators say the driver was the only one wearing a seat belt.

Sunday night four children and one adult were out of hospital after being treated for their injuries.

On Sunday the heartbroken community of Avenal came together to help one of their own. A day after 10-year-old Even Perez lost his life in a car crash his teammates and friends gathered on the streets of Avenal to help raise money to pay for his funeral.

"Everybody's in shock right now. It's one of our youths in a small town, everybody knows everybody and knows the family real well and it's just a tragedy. It's very tragic for the family," Keith Harvick of Avenal said.

Dozens of people stopped at the car wash to show their support for Even and his family. The 10-year-old was a member of the Avenal Pee Wee Football program and involved in other sports like wrestling.

"He's a kid that always had a big smile no matter what, he always had that big smile and was always ready to go," Avenal youth football VP Lupe Chavez said.

Saturday morning authorities say Even's mother was driving on I-5 when her tire blew out. She attempted to correct her vehicle, but went into the center median and the SUV flipped. Three kids inside the vehicle were ejected.

Even's coach saw the crash unfold.

"It was like a dust cloud, everything disappeared. After a couple of seconds, everyhting cleared and I just seen kids crawling out through the vehicle," Ramon Vargas said.

Vargas called 911 and then realized that one of his players, number 7, was no longer alive.

"I'm still in shock. We're holding up as best as we can, but I know that some of the players are going to need some counseling," Vargas said.

Coaches say Even's death has impacted many of the players and children with whom he played sports. The Avenal football program says it plans to honor Even's life.

"Avenal Youth Football is going retire his jersey from the mighty might level all the way to senior level. So number 7 will never be worn again in Avenal," Chavez said.

On Sunday volunteers washed more than 300 cars. Other fundraisers will be held throughout the week.

Dos Palos football players will hold a car wash at the Y at 3 p.m. An account is being set up at Fast Federal Credit Union to help the family pay for Even's funeral.

If you would like to help with funeral or medical expenses for the Perez' family -- an account has been set up at the FAST Federal Credit Union in Hanford.

Even Perez, #7
FAST Federal Credit Union
312 W. 7th St.
Hanford, CA 93230

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