The parents of 18-year-old Denise Gomez can’t believe their little girl is gone.
"I think that this is a dream, like a nightmare and she’s gonna come tomorrow and knock on my door, and tell me, 'mom I'm here,'" Flor Gomez said.
The Animo Inglewood Charter High School senior died in Thursday’s bus crash in Orland, Calif. She and best friend Ismael Jimenez were among the five Los Angeles-area students killed when their tour bus was hit by a FedEx truck on the way to Humboldt State University.
Denise Gomez’s father told NBC4 that he wanted to take his daughter to the university himself.
"I said, 'no mija, you can’t go by yourself, we got to take you,' then she says, 'no Ismael is going with me so we are going to be fine dad, don’t worry,'" Ernesto Gomez said.
Denise’s parents said their daughter didn’t want her father to worry about the costs associated with taking a trip to the university so she opted to join the other students on the school-sponsored trip for low-income and first-generation college students.
"(Denise) loved the progress that came with hard work, and was determined to go to college to open new pathways for herself and her family," Green Dot Public Schools CEO Marco Petruzzi said in a statement.
Denise’s mother recalls her last attempted communication with her daughter.
"I sent her a message, please, please call me whenever you have a chance, are you already there," Flor Gomez said.
Denise’s mother found out about the bus crash about an hour later.
Denise’s best friend, Ismael Jimenez, is being hailed a hero after the crash. A student on the bus told school officials that Ismael "busted open a window at the front of the bus as it was filling with smoke and people were getting burned. He started lifting kids out in an effort to save them."
Denise’s parents believe their daughter was by her best friend’s side, helping him help others.
"they put other people first then them."
Both Denise and Ismael would have been the first people in their immediate families to attend college.
"There are no words that can truly express how devastated we are by this news. Our deepest sympathies and unwavering support go out to Denise and Ismael’s families, friends and loved ones," Petruzzi said in the statement.