A beloved and promising 11-year-old Madera boy who played with the Merced Soccer Academy was killed Saturday morning after a truck plowed into his home, also killing the driver and injuring the boy's younger brother, officials said.
Luis Lopez, a fifth grader who played for the San Joaquin Valley Soccer Development Academy U12 Categor that feeds into the U.S. national team, was identified by soccer officials as the boy who died after a model GMC pickup truck drove through his Madera home's garage, which had been converted into a bedroom, California Highway Patrol Sgt. Rafael Rivera said.
Luis' 9-year-old brother was sleeping in the garage with Luis when the pickup crashed, Rivera said. The brother, identified as Matthew Lopez by academy officials, suffered moderate to major injuries to his legs as a result of the crash.
CHP officials couldn't be reached Saturday night to confirm the identities of the brothers and the driver.
"Everyone is very devastated right now," academy secretary Daisy Ramirez said, adding that Luis' coach was picking the boy up for a game when he saw the aftermath of the crash.
Ramirez said Luis and Matthew's family has gone through several recent tragedies. Luis' older brother died while serving the armed forces in Iraq, while his father was killed by a train, she said. The brothers are survived by two sisters and their mother.
"It's a very humble family," Ramirez said. "This hurts everybody."
A witness told authorities the 36-year-old driver of the truck appeared to have a "medical emergency" when he was driving just after 9 a.m. Saturday on Road 37 near Cloverleaf Avenue, Rivera said.
The truck veered off the road and hit a mailbox on the east shoulder of the highway at about 40 mph, then accelerated and hit a propane tank, Rivera said. The truck then went airborne and crashed into the garage of the home.
A GoFundMe page set up for Luis and Matthew exceeded its $10,000 goal within six hours.