Lorraine Castellanos-Prietto stopped by the Monterey Park intersection Wednesday morning where her father had been killed the day before.
A chair rested there, along with candles and notes from children, in honor of Abel Castellanos, a 76-year-old crossing guard who had taken his job so seriously.
“Thank you!” read one note left at the crossing of Elmgate and Garfield avenues. “U kept me safe when I was a kid. Thank you! On behalf of all us kids.”
Castellanos was struck by a 2004 Ford Mustang as he sat in his folding chair at about 3:40 p.m. Tuesday. The crash is being investigated by the California Highway Patrol. A 2004 Ford Mustang went out of control in the intersection and hit Castellanos while he was sitting at the corner. Witnesses reported that the car appeared to swerve to miss another vehicle.
The driver stayed at the scene and was cooperating, the CHP said. The driver’s mother was also in the car and suffered major injuries.
For more than a decade, Castellanos had guarded children crossing the street on their way from home to school and back.
“He loved to cross the kids, watch the kids grow up over the years,” said Castellanos-Prietto, 54.
Twenty years ago, when her cousin got married and did not have a father to walk her down the aisle, it was Castellanos who filled in the role.
“My dad was happy to do it for her,” Castellanos-Prietto said, choking up with emotion. “My dad was a very friendly man. He was always there for anybody.”
Though Castellanos was getting up in years, he was spry, his daughter said. Every day before going to the crosswalk he’d drive a couple miles over to the local McDonald’s to have coffee and oatmeal with friends.
Less than a day after the crash, Castellanos’ daughter said she is guessing his McDonald’s friends already heard the news because he was so well liked and known around the neighborhood.
Castellanos and his late wife, Dolores, moved into their Monterey Park home in 1963 and had two sons and Castellanos-Prietto. Dolores Castellanos died of cancer on April 14, 2014 – Good Friday, but also the couple’s 55th anniversary.
“We talked to him and said, ‘Why don’t you move in with one of us?'” Castellanos-Prietto said she and her brothers asked their father. “He said no, he wanted to live in his house until he died.”
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