17-year-old Christopher Alvelo had just finished up an Eagle Scouts community project on Saturday when he headed home with his stepdad Joseph Snyder and three friends. Alvelo was riding shotgun when Snyder blacked out behind the wheel in a medical emergency.
From the passenger seat, the teenager was able to grab the wheel and steer the truck off the road and into the parking lot of the North Philadelphia Jet Center, but he couldn’t reach the brake before the vehicle crashed into a parked bus. Alvelo was killed instantly as he saved the lives of the other passengers and potential bystanders.
Snyder is in critical but stable condition, with a broken back, leg, and arm, and the three teens are being treated for minor injuries.
His family and friends are hailing Alvelo as a hero. His aunt, Susan Foremski, told the local news that if her nephew hadn’t grabbed the wheel and steered the truck, it would’ve collided with tank full of heating oil. Who knows how many lives were saved by his quick thinking and selfless action?
It seems like this is the kind of selflessness with which Chris lived his life. Bill Schiling, the principal of the New Foundations Charter School where Chris attended said, “He was a gentleman’s gentleman … you wanted him to be your son and date your daughter.”
Classmates gathered at a memorial set up around the roads where he died over the weekend and lamented the loss of their friend. His fellow seniors were especially looking forward to graduating with Chris as part of the school’s first ever senior class.
"Chris was supposed to be the first one walking down the aisle because he was the first alphabetically in our class," said Savanna, one of his classmates. "Now he's just not going to be there, and we already took senior pictures. He was already excited about everything we were planning this year."
It sounds like Chris was an amazing kid, and the world is not better off without him. He will be missed.
Why does it seem sometimes like only the good die young?
Image via Eric Audras/Corbis