SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Daniel Perez died in a wrong-way freeway crash hours after attending his first day of school during what would have been his junior year at San Marcos High School.
A compassion center was opened on campus as soon as principal Ed Behrens learned about the 101 crash in Carpinteria Wednesday night. Behrens said Perez was a stellar 3.6 student who planned to play LaCrosse this year.
The 16-year-old also played baseball.
Baseball coach Sergio Castellanos said, "Danny Perez was an awesome individual. From a coaches point of view he was willing to do whatever it took to help his team. When other players were injured he was pivotal in playing four different positions: left field, center field, third base and shortstop. He did an exceptional job. Also Danny was always upbeat and positive, he got along well with all of his teammates, and everyone admired him and loved him for the person that he was.
Spanish teacher, Annete Holdman said, "I had Dan in class twice and really enjoyed him. He was friendly and had a great sense of humor. We talked about baseball a lot. I'm just heartbroken over this news and I know a lot of kids will be also.
Chemistry teacher, Kimberly Tilton said, "I can still see Dan laughing at one of my corny jokes from the back corner of my class. It's hard to accept that I won't be celebrating his walk across the graduation stage. He was truly exceptional young man and had all the potential to become a scientist. It was a true pleasure getting to know him. My heart gos out to all of his family and friends for their terrible loss.
A moment of silence will be held during first period on Friday and again at the first football game of the season.