SUNNYVALE -- About 200 people gathered in a Catholic church in Sunnyvale Thursday to attend a solemn funeral Mass for Anthony Garcia, the 17-year-old who died when a vehicle collided with his bicycle in San Jose on Dec. 3.
The Rev. Martin Abrego presided over the service at St. Martin Parish in front of Garcia's silver-colored casket on which he helped place a white shroud with a portrait of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
"This is not a very pleasant moment and we understand this is very difficult for the family," Abrego said looking toward Garcia's family members in the front pew. "That's why we are here."
"It's not easy to say goodbye to such a young life," he said.
Garcia, of San Jose, was struck by a vehicle on Dec. 3 as he rode his bicycle near the corner of Vista Park Drive and Branham Lane shortly before 7 p.m. He died soon afterwards at a hospital.
The driver of the vehicle, who is not being identified, cooperated with San Jose police and has not been charged in the accident, police said.
The nearly 1-hour traditional Catholic service for the boy inside the high-ceiling church included a Mass conducted in English and Spanish, a quote from the New Testament, communion and a group that sang Spanish-language folk and religious songs.
Pallbearers, some of them teenagers as Garcia was, wheeled the casket into the church past a wreath with red carnations fashioned into a large heart next an oversized color photo of Garcia.
Abrego, wearing a flowing white robe and standing in the middle aisle at the front of church, blessed the casket with holy water before the white cloth was draped over it.
During the service, he marveled at the audience of about 200 people, including many who appeared to be in their teens.
"We don't usually have this big a crowd here," he told the assemblage. "May the lord welcome him to a place at the heavenly banquet."
After the service, the casket was transported in a black Cadillac hearse for burial later today at the Oak Hill Memorial in San Jose.
Jacob Reyes, 22, a San Jose resident who was a close friend of the teen, described him while standing outside the church after the Mass.
"He was the happiest kid, I never saw him in a bad mood," Reyes said. "He had a passion for life. He was definitely a leader. He was very artistic: music, drawing, whatever he did turned to gold."
Garcia's cousins Lorena Martin, 35, and Desiree Interiano, 33, both of Santa Clara, also recalled Garcia's artistic bent.
"He was a dancer," Martin said with a smile. "He liked music. He liked to spray graffiti. He was loving, really loving, always smiling."
"Always happy," Interiano said.
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