Ronny Andrews was born in Honduras but became the all-American kid in Loomis, helping the Del Oro High School football team win an unlikely state championship.
On Monday afternoon, his football family and others were gathering around a makeshift memorial. An online fundraising site was taking donations to pay for Andrews’ funeral.
Andrews, who turned 18 two weeks ago and planned to join the Air Force after graduation, was killed while driving his beloved Pontiac in Rocklin late Saturday night. His passenger, a former Del Oro teammate, was released from the hospital Sunday.
“He was a good boy, an all-American teenager is what he was,” his mother, Fatima Galindo, said Monday. “He fit in here right away; he was just an American boy.”
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It marked the second time in two months that an area high school athlete died violently. In November, Grant High School football player Jaulon ‘JJ’ Clavo was shot to death hours before a playoff game.
Andrews cherished his place on the Del Oro Golden Eagles football team. The team won the CIF State Division II-AA championship a month ago, overcoming a 2-6 start and running off eight straight wins. The Eagles capped the season with a 16-13 upset victory over Camarillo High School of Ventura County on a rainy Friday night at Sacramento State’s Hornet Stadium.
“It was a pretty incredible ride we had as a team,” said one of the assistant coaches, Michael Gallagher, who came with his family Monday to place a flower at the roadside memorial. “It was pretty neat to see Ronny take that journey with all of us.” Gallagher said teammates referred to Andrews as “Earl.”
Loomis is a community of just 6,600 people, with a flavor somewhere between farm town and suburb. The championship was a unifying force, and Gallagher said Andrews’ death “is even going to bring our team and our family closer.”
Andrews played guard and defensive tackle, and was described by teammate Justin Burrage as a solid role player.
“He was a good team player, and he accepted his role,” Burrage said. “He was always a good teammate. He did whatever the team asked.”
At Del Oro High School, coaches and administrators gathered Monday to discuss grief counseling for students when school reopens Tuesday. The chaplain from the Placer County Sheriff’s Department was expected to assist with the counseling, said Principal Dan Gayaldo, adding that the process would be a difficult one for everyone involved.
“It will be something that takes days and weeks and months,” Gayaldo said.
An online fundraiser was set up at GoFundMe.com to help pay for Andrews’ burial. As of Monday evening, 163 people had donated a total of $9,706.
Andrews was driving with a former teammate, Anthony “Texas” Watson, to a birthday party when the accident happened. Watson went to his friend’s side but all he could do was hold him as Andrews died.
“Anthony held Ronny until Ronny’s last breath,” said Watson’s father, Josh. “He’s more emotionally beat up right now than he is physically.”
The younger Watson, who transferred to rival Rocklin High School, remained good friends with his former teammate.
“He was everything, everything you’d look for in a guy,” the younger Watson said in a brief interview. “Sweet, smart, funny, intelligent, strong-willed.”
Rocklin police said the cause of the accident remained under investigation. The vehicle, heading north on Park Drive, lost control and hit a tree at 10:46 p.m. Saturday.
Galindo said her son lived in his native Honduras until he was 9 and never forgot his Central American roots. Though born in the capital city of Tegucigalpa, he spent most of his childhood growing up on Roatán, an island off the country’s north coast.
“He was an island boy,” she said.
He was fluent in Spanish as well as English, and he was planning to visit the country after graduation “to reconnect,” his mom said.
After that, he planned to join the Air Force.
“I was very pleased about that,” said Galindo, who works at a crisis counseling center in Auburn.
Andrews’ survivors include his father and an older brother.
Bee photographer Renée C. Byer and staff writer Joe Davidson contributed to this report.