IMMOKALEE, Fla - An emotional goodbye for a Collier County teen taken too soon in a deadly crash on Halloween night. Friday, family and friends paid their respects to 17-year-old Jerry Ruiz at a special viewing.
He and two other Immokalee High students, Joseph Daguerre and Jacob Garibay, died last week in a rollover accident on their way home from a party.
Friday night, hundreds lined up outside Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Immokalee to say their final goodbyes to Jerry Ruiz. Family and friends say the teen had big dreams of wrestling in college and based on the number of people who turned out for the visitation, he touched many lives.
Confident, ambitious, and caring. Those are just a few words family and friends used to describe 17 year old Jerry Ruiz Friday night. "I've been friends with him since 5the grade. It's really hard to accept the fact that he's not here," says Laura Flores.
Hundreds of people waited in line at an Immokalee church to pay their respects. Many of them told WINK News about Ruiz's amazing talent as a wrestler and his dream to continue the sport in college.
"He was going to go to Ohio State. He told me he had a scholarship to go there wrestling," says friend Gonzalo Ramirez.
Ranked third in the state this year, he had his sights set on a state championship. "He was an athlete, he wanted a scholarship so he could take care of his family," says Ruiz's cousin Daniel Gomez-Ramos. "His dad always said Jerry was his champ."
Friends say they'll miss Ruiz's sense of humor the most and his ability to always make his friends smile. "This is our last goodbye until we see him again," says Flores.
Family and friends will gather again at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church for Ruiz's funeral at 10 a.m. Saturday. A burial will follow.
Funeral services for Joseph Daguerre will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at First Baptis Church. A burial will follow. The funeral for the third teen, Jacob Garibay, was Thursday.