Gage Rossi was a ninth grader at Eastside High School. The district has expressed its heartfelt condolences to his family. His parents are grieving what they believe was a preventable tragedy.
"I can't believe he's gone," said his father, Dean Rossi.
Dean retraced his son's last steps to catch the school bus on Avenue J. The bus would normally pick up Gage at 6 a.m. when it's still dark outside. The teenager was struck and killed as he crossed the street, a few feet from his family's home.
"I just put my coat on him, talked to him, told him his mom was there, he wasn't alone," said the victim's mother, Laura Rossi.
Laura says she had called several times to have her son picked up next to their home, so he wouldn't have to cross a road where the speed limit is 55 mph.
"They just said that because they'd have to re-route to come down this side of the road instead of turning around, that there was no money in the budget and because it would cost extra time and extra gas," said Laura.
Antelope Valley Schools Transportation Agency released a statement Friday night, saying: "We will conduct a thorough in-house investigation and respond according. We are also working cooperatively with CHP to assist in their investigation. It was a very tragic accident and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the student. As always, we will continue to make every effort to transport the students in our care safely to and from school."
The California Highway Patrol is investigating whether the bus had on its flashing lights, signaling cars to stop.
At Eastside High, Gage's friends met with grief counselors and gathered after hours to create a memorial. His friends and family say Gage was always true to himself and those he loved.
"He would also just pull me and hug me and give me a kiss for no reason, at 14. That's special," his mother said through tears.