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17-Year-Old Dies After Drunken Driver Crashes Into His Car, Family and Friends Devastated

By Paula Liu

A 17-year-old in California was killed in a car crash when a woman driving under the influence smashed into the car he was riding in, according to multiple reports.

Armando Canales and four other friends were driving along highway 17 in Santa Clara County early on May 11 when 28-year-old Ashley Marie Oliver, who was driving in the opposite lane, crashed into the boys’ cars, according to East Bay Times.

Some of the teens in Canales’s car were not wearing seat belts. The fire department was on the scene around 2 a.m., Fox’s KTVU reported, and both cars involved in the crash sustained heavy damage on both the southbound and northbound lanes of the highway.

According to a statement by CHP Officer Ross Lee, other than Canales, no one received life-threatening injuries. Oliver, the driver of the other car, was sent to the hospital for treatment, and then was booked into Santa Clara County jail on a $275,000 bail. East Bay Times reported that Oliver was arrested on suspicion of felony, drunken driving, and vehicular manslaughter.

According to the District Attorney’s office, no charges had been filed against her yet.

Canales’s mother, Tina Cacilhas, was completely devastated by the death of her son, especially since it happened a day before Mother’s Day. According to East Bay Times, Cacilhas would have spent Mother’s Day with the whole family, including her son, but this year she canceled the event after receiving the news.

“I’m crushed,” Cacilhas said in an interview with the news outlet. “My heart is completely empty. My son was my everything.”

Cacilhas said that she was having a hard time dealing with her son’s death, especially since she had seen him the night before the accident.

“It’s like a nightmare,” Cacilhas told East Bay Times. “You want to wake up, it’s so unreal.”

According to the news outlet, it wasn’t just Cacilhas who was suffering, but many of Canales’s friends were also struggling to come to terms with their friend’s death.

“It’s just hurting me,” said Jorden Brown, a 17-year-old who went to Washington High School with Canales. The two were also on the school’s football team.

“I walked in his room and I just started crying, because every time I would walk in his room, he’s sitting right there on his gaming chair playing video games,” Brown said, “and this time he wasn’t there, and he’s not coming back.”

According to Cacilhas, Canales was something of a social butterfly, very friendly, and he got along easily with people. She also told the news outlet that her son loved helping others and aspired to be a firefighter.

Canales enjoyed playing football, basketball, and video games, his mother told the news outlet. She said Canales was looking forward to graduating, and that he had many goals he wanted to achieve after high school.

Canales was also a part of the fire technology program as a student at the Mission Valley Regional Occupational Program, and the superintendent of the program released a statement on May 13 praising the 17-year-old.

“We are deeply saddened to learn of Armando Canales’ passing. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends,” the Mission Valley Superintendent Thomas Hanson said. “We are deeply for us to grasp this loss as we focus on assisting students and staff who are trying [to] deal with this terrible news.”

Julio Valdez, Canales’s friend since the first grade, said the two bonded ever since Canales moved into the same apartment complex. The two were part of the same fire technology class in school.

“We talked about our dreams together, we talked about girls, we talked about everything together,” Valdez told the news outlet. “We talked about how we both were going to make it together. And how we would grow up together.”

Valdez said Canales was his best friend, and they were so close that he even took to calling Canales a brother. According to the news outlet, Canales was a very important part of Valdez’s life, citing that Canales would always be there to support Valdez.

“He’d always pick me up,” Valdez added. “If I messed up in a class, I messed up on a test, or if I messed up in fire tech, he’d be right there, and he’d be like, ‘Hey, let’s go get another one. You’ll get it next time. You got it.'”

Valdez spoke further on Canales’s helpful and supportive nature, and how great a person he was.

“He was just one of those guys, that no matter what, he could be having the worst day of his life…and he’ll still be picking you up with a smile, just so you’ll smile,” Valdez added.

Regarding the accident, Valdez told the news outlet that Canales was a great person who “didn’t deserve to be taken away from this earth this early,” adding that that Canales especially didn’t deserve to die at the hand of someone who was driving under the influence.

“Just knowing he’s not going to be here, kills me,” said Valdez. “[Canales is] someone I would hang out with every day of my life. Someone I would text daily, someone I would call daily.”

“Now I can’t call him,” said Valdez, “I can’t text him.”

According to the news outlet, a GoFundMe page had been created to help pay for the funeral, and received more than $14,000, past the $10,000 goal, thanks to donations from more than 300 people.

After the accident, Canales’s school set up support meetings and services for the students, giving them a way to talk to counselors about their feelings surrounding Canales’s death.

“A lot of times when this happens, you’re not getting a lot of teaching done in those classes on this day. And a lot of times kids don’t want to leave their friends in those classes to go to the crisis center. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. So I think it’s a good way to make sure you’re reaching everyone,” said Bob Moran, the principal of Washington High School.

Despite being hit with the tragedy, Canales’s mother said she used this accident as a way to sit Canales’s friends down and teaching them about responsibility, according to East Bay Times, especially when it came to alcohol. She told them to make smart decisions and to never drink and drive.

“Remember, this could easily have been one of you,” Cacilhas said. “Take the message. Do not drink and drive.”