19-year-old killed in head-on crash with drunk driver near Tulare, CHP says

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Tuesday, July 27, 2021
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Friends said 19-year-old Fabian Castellanos was a jokester who lit up the room and who would always help when he could.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Family and friends are still trying to grasp the fact that their loved one was killed in a crash less than two miles from home.

Law enforcement said a driver under the influence of alcohol didn't properly navigate a turn and slammed head-on into 19-year-old Fabian Castellanos.

Monday night, family and friends gathered in Tulare to pray the rosary for Castellanos.

"Whoever was his friend, he knew how to give friendship from the bottom of his heart," said Fabian Jimenez.

Friends said Castellanos was a jokester who lit up the room and who would always help when he could.

That's how he and Fabian Jimenez became friends.

They met while working at a swap meet and bonded over having the same name.

Castellanos helped out with Jimenez's business hosting pony rides around the Central Valley.

"He was a person who, if you knew him for a couple of times or something, and you asked him for a favor, he was always there," Jimenez said.

Now, they're holding onto memories of Castellano after he was killed in a crash Saturday night just outside of Tulare.

The California Highway Patrol says 21-year-old Jerry Avila was under the influence of alcohol when he failed to navigate the turn near Road 92 and Avenue 260, crashing head-on into Castellano.

Avila had minor injuries. A 19-year-old woman who was in Avila's passenger seat had major injuries and was taken to the hospital.

The CHP says Castellanos was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the vehicle.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

"'Til this day, I still can't believe that he's gone," said Jose Garcia.

Avila was arrested and booked into jail for drunk driving and manslaughter.

Now, Castellanos' family and friends are hoping others who are considering drinking and driving to think twice before getting behind the wheel.

"If you're drunk and you have to drive, just call anybody. Anybody. You know? I'm pretty sure they're going to be mad at you for a minute or two, you know, that they have to wake up and go get you, but it's better than taking an innocent life like this," Jimenez said.

Castellano's immediate family did not want to go on camera but said they're grateful for the love and support. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help with funeral expenses.

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