For four acquaintences of Derick Cantrell, the night they met him was his last.
The friends met the 19-year-old aspiring Marine on Tuesday, hours before he made a dash across North Academy Boulevard at the Maizeland Road intersection as he headed home and was struck by a car. He died of his injuries early the following morning at Memorial Hospital Central.
At a vigil for Cantrell, the four friends shivered, clutched candles and remembered the horror of Tuesday night. Aimee Blaine and Sam Gomez tried to stop Cantrell from crossing against the green light, they said. After Cantrell was hit, Gomez knelt next to him and tried to help him breathe; Blaine stepped into the road and directed traffic. Ricardo Figueroa and Jacqueline Alvarez called 911.
They huddled Thursday night among more than 100 of Cantrell’s mourners, including his mother and stepfather. Cantrell was the second of four brothers, said his cousin Ronnie Wilcox.
Snow flurried around the crowd, and the busy intersection drowned out the microphone Cantrell’s friend Natashia Gebrezion had set up for the mourners to broadcast their grief and memories.
Earlier Thursday, Gebrezion said she had known Cantrell for six years. They went to school together until he moved to Oklahoma for his last years in high school. He moved back to Colorado Springs to go to college, but then decided to join the Marines. He was scheduled to leave for boot camp Dec. 10, she said.
“He said the Marines are the toughest,” Gebrezion said. “He talked about how good they were and he said he wanted to be one of the toughest of all of them. Also, a lot of his family members were Marines and he wanted to continue that tradition.”
She said Cantrell was a long-distance runner who ran at least three miles a day, but often more than 20. In preparation for the Marines, he worked out with a group three times a week, she said.
He also loved acting and was in the cast of a web series she started called “Finding Princess Charming,” scheduled to start in November. They filmed on Tuesday morning and Cantrell told her that he was going bowling that evening.
Cantrell’s stepfather, Joseph Trujillo, recalled vividly his last moments with his step-son on Tuesday, he said between tears at the vigil. He got home after a long day of work, and the two men swapped stories. Cantrell wanted Trujillo to give him a haircut, but Trujillo didn’t.
“Maybe if I would’ve given him a haircut,” he said. “There’s a bunch of what ifs and should haves. But you got to think about the good that was.”