La Habra teen dies days after being hit by debris on the 57 Freeway

A 17-year-old boy died on Thanksgiving at a hospital in Orange, days after being hit by debris while riding in a car with his mother on the 57 Freeway.

Ethan Hawks was in the passenger seat of the southbound vehicle Saturday when he was struck about 2:30 p.m. just south of Katella Avenue in Anaheim, according to a statement by the Orange County coroner's office.


The junior at Whittier Christian High School in La Habra was transported to the intensive care unit at UC Irvine Medical Center.

He was pronounced dead Thursday shortly after 5 a.m.

According to the school's athletic site, Ethan was hit by a piece of metal that broke through the windshield, striking him on the right side of his face and neck, severing his carotid artery and damaging his jaw and cheekbone. His mother drove him to the hospital, where he was placed in an induced coma.

Whittier Christian announced Ethan's passing on its Facebook page Thursday and noted that grief counselors and pastors would be on campus.

"The overwhelming response of support for the Hawks family over the last few days is a testament to just how much Ethan was loved by his family and friends and how this story touched so many lives," the school's top administrator, Carl Martinez, said in a statement.

Rolland Esslinger, the athletic director of the school, created an online donation page to help the Hawks family with expenses.

"As one of our coaches said: 'Ethan was an incredible young man with an awesome spirit,'" Esslinger tweeted.

Friends who posted tributes to Ethan on social media called him "a great man" and "the most positive and happiest kid."

"You were something else Ethan, that's what made you special," wrote one.