Family, friends and passersby left candles and candy canes on Saturday at a makeshift memorial for two brothers who died in a high-speed crash that also left their father seriously wounded and police searching for a second motorist who might have cut them off.
The memorial was set up at the foot of a light pole on Los Nietos Road just east of Norwalk Boulevard where a crash cut short the lives of Damian, 11, and Jonathan Medina, 13, on Friday before 6 p.m.
The boys' mother, clad in a bathrobe and being held up by others, wept uncontrollably at the scene of the crash Friday.
Andrew Medina, who works in the area but is not related to the family, set down candy canes at the foot of the light pole to remember the boys.
"I want them to know that they're still going to have a Christmas in heaven," he said. "I'm so depressed. I'm feeling for the family. It's really really hard."
They died when the Honda Civic they were in lost control, crossed into oncoming traffic and hit the pole in an area where two lanes merge into one, police said. The front half of the vehicle continued on and came to rest on the property of a nearby business.
Damian was ejected. His brother was found dead in the front passenger seat. The boys’ father, Valentin Medina, 33, was in critical condition at a hospital.
Whittier Police Sgt. Jim Uhl said speeding was likely a factor and "there may have been some jockeying for that lane,” but he said police didn't know whether street racing was involved.
Detectives were looking at surveillance video from nearby businesses to try to locate the second car. Police had no description of the vehicle nor the driver.
“Given the time of the year, this is one of the more tragic collisions we’ve seen here,” Uhl said.
Anthony Marquez, who said he was driving behind the Civic and the second car before the crash, said the cars were traveling as fast as 80 mph.
He said he thought the Civic and the second car were racing when the second car cut off the Civic before disappearing.
“I just saw the man in the car,” Marquez said. “I heard him yelling out his son's name. I looked down the street and I saw the other half of the car. I ran down as fast as I could to see the little boy and tried waking him up, but he was already gone.”
Phyliss Martinez, who was Damian’s teacher at Aeolian Elementary School, paid her respects at the crash site.
"Damian was just so funny and smart,” Martinez said. “He was always cheerful."