FITCHBURG (CBS) – “He was always happy, trying to help other people,” said Maria Isabel Perez, talking about her first-born child Joseph ‘Joey’ Perez.
“He’s my grandson but he’s really like my son because he’s been with me from the beginning,” his grandmother Margarita Perez said. Margarita raised Joey in Fitchburg. “He had a learning disability, but he was kindhearted,” she said.
Last Thursday, Joey’s grandmother said the 17-year-old left his house to meet up with his best friend a few blocks away.
“I laid down. The last thing I told him. I said ‘Joey, be a good example and don’t ride the bike in the street,’” Margarita said.
In an exclusive interview with WBZ, Margarita said Joey just learned how to ride a bike.
A short time later, Joey’s friends came by looking for him. She started to worry then she received a knock on the door by Fitchburg police.
“He said he (Joey) had an accident and I said, I asked him, is it serious? He said ‘yes pray.’”
Police told Joey’s grandmother that Joey was riding his bike down a hill near Saint Bernard and Boutelle Streets when he accidentally collided with a SUV. Joey was rushed to UMass Hospital. Joey’s grandmother said the chief of police drove her to the hospital.
“They said they were going to do some tests to determine and fully see if he was braindead,” explained Joey’s grandmother. “They were trying to keep him alive until I got here.”
Joey passed away two days later on Saturday, July 8th.
A memorial continues to grow at the spot where the teen was killed. “Out of all of my 50 cousins, he was just the colorful kid in the family. That’s why I bought him these flowers,” explained Angel Velazquez.
The SUV driver stayed at the scene and was not charged.
“He always told me that if anything happens to me, I want to still keep helping people,” said Perez.
So he signed up to be an organ donor. Perez says his organs saved at least five lives.
“For me, he’s always going to be my son and my hero, always,” cried Perez.