Death of Teen Sparks ‘Lights on for Angel’ to Raise Awareness


This morning dozens of people in Port Charlotte turned on their outdoor lights in honor of Angel Garcia, a teenager who was hit by a truck last week while walking to his bus stop. The family of the 17-year-old made the decision to take the boy off life support Thursday afternoon, just days after the accident.

According to Florida Highway Patrol, the teen was walking in the roadway with a friend when he was struck. His friend, Justin Garcia, said they had almost reached the bus stop when the box truck overcorrected and hit Garcia, who was thrown several feet upon impact. Garcia suffered severe head trauma and underwent surgery.

Mike Riley, the community liaison at Charlotte County District Schools, said a number of students at the bus stop witnessed the accident. Some of them called their parents, some went home and others went to school, he said. The district had guidance counselors and psychologists meet with the students attending school that day.

No charges have been filed against the driver of the box truck, who told FHP he did not see the victim. It was still dark outside when the accident occurred at just before 6:40 a.m.; current sunrise time is 7:25 a.m., according to local weather reports. FHP troopers stated there are sidewalks and streetlights in the area of the crash. 

“Lights on for Angel” was organized on Facebook to make the streets a bit safer Friday. Organizers said they hoped the  event would add extra light for students walking to school.

On Facebook, participants from Punta Gorda, Florida, all the way to Indianapolis shared that they were keeping on their lights all day to promote awareness of student safety.

“I’m asking all of Charlotte County and anywhere to turn your outdoor lights on to create awareness for our children who have to travel to their bus stops in the early dark a.m. hours!” said Kari Reager Ruth, who is hosting the Facebook page.

One area resident noted, “I’m so aggravated because these drivers need to slow down and watch for kids. You know kids don’t pay attention — they are kids — but it’s the responsibility of drivers knowing what time school is in the a.m. or p.m. to watch for them.”

Another person commented, “It seems this is happening so much more since it’s been dark in the mornings.”

In Cape Coral, located about 32 miles south of Port Charlotte, Councilman Kevin McGrail has been pushing to get streetlights at every school bus stop in his city since 2011, when four major accidents occurred within the Lee County Public Schools’ jurisdiction that school year — including three fatalities. All of the students were fatally struck by motorists at or near their bus stops in the San Carlos community.