Gabriel Garate: Long Beach boy, 7, dies in his father’s arms after being hit by a van while crossing the street

LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA: A 7-year-old boy was involved in a horrific accident that claimed his life on Tuesday evening July 26 while crossing the street with his father. Gabriel Garate had been picked up from school around three o’clock by his aunt, after which they went to Holé Molé, a restaurant, where he placed an order for tacos, one of his favorite meals.


According to his family, his aunt left him at his father’s house in Long Beach a few hours later. Gabriel and his father, Francisco Garate, left home to walk a few blocks to the baseball field because Gabriel was looking forward to practice at Stearns Champions Park.


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Investigators say the driver of a 2005 Dodge pickup truck failed to report when he turned left and hit Gabriel as they were crossing the Lakewood Boulevard intersection around 5:22 p.m. Gabriel died in the street with his baseball equipment nearby. Francisco said on Wednesday, July 27, “All I could do was hold him in my arms and say, ‘My baby, my baby’. He was my boyfriend. We did everything together.” According to the police, “the father and the minor were in the crosswalk with the priority pedestrian signal when the incident occurred”.

James Barnes, 57, the driver of the van, was later arrested by police for felony homicide with gross incompetence. Barnes, who has $50,000 bond, declined to comment when contacted by the Long Beach Post. Gabriel’s family said they were still processing the tragedy that seemed to come out of nowhere as they gathered in front of a roadside monument. “It was a green light. We were doing everything right. It should never have happened,” added Francisco.


Who was Gabriel Garate?

Gabriel was born in Torrance, LA on March 13, 2015. He and his father resided in Long Beach, and he attended Bixby Elementary School. He was to start second year there in the fall. His father Francisco recalled what an incredible child Gabriel was. “He was smart, but he had a goofy personality,” he said. Gabriel’s interests evolved as he grew up. At the age of 7, he was sure he wanted to play baseball, but he also aspired to become a video game developer. According to his family, he played video games like Dark Souls, Fortnite, and Minecraft with his father for long periods of time. According to Francisco, “He was like, ‘Dad, I’m so good. I’m seven years old and passed Dark Souls, when I grow up I’ll be a gaming god.” “

Gabriel was not like other children his age, according to his aunt, Jennifer Engel. She claimed that he frequently discussed complex topics for a young person. “He was such a happy kid,” Engel said. Residents expressed their condolences at a temporary monument set up on the sidewalk near the crash site since it happened. More than 20 of Gabriel’s family and friends gathered there Wednesday afternoon for a memorial. They sobbed, held each other and sang hymns in his honor.


A memorial in honor of Gabriel Garate (GoFundMe)

Gabriel’s grandmother cried out in Spanish, “Ay mi bebe, ay mi bebe,” over and over, sobbing. “Solo lo quiero agarrar,” she moaned, which meant she wanted to hold him. Gabriel’s family set up a GoFundMe campaign to pay for the funeral costs. As of July 30, he had raised $27,695 against the goal of $20,000.


Martin E. Berry