Those who knew 18-year-old A.J. Cedillo describe him as a kind young man with a bright future, and are still coming to terms with the fatal crash that took his life on Friday.
Cedillo, who graduated just months ago from West Haven High School, died Saturday after losing control of his car and slamming into a utility pole in Orange on Friday.
He was traveling with three female passengers, all under the age of 18, two of whom are still in the hospital. The third has been treated and released, police said.
Neighbors said they can't believe Cedillo is gone.
"My stomach dropped," said Lynette Akey, who used to live across the street from Cedillo. "I'm still thrown back."
Printed next to Cedillo's senior yearbook picture are the words, "Always remember to live while you're young, because you only have one life."
It's a haunting phrase.
"That's one kid that should seriously have a life, because he's what you call one of the rare breeds," Akey said.
A neighbor who spoke anonymously said her daughter grew up with Cedillo, and that he loved playing soccer. She called him a respectable young man.
"He's a good kid," she said. "He helps around the neighborhood. He helps with yards in the summertime and helps shovel in the wintertime."
The deadly crash happened just before 4 p.m. Friday while Cedillo was traveling westbound on Indian River Road. Investigators haven't determined a cause, but witnesses said they heard squealing tires and wonder if speed might have been a factor.
However, people who knew him said Cedillo was responsible and trustworthy.
"I don't see A.J. doing anything to endanger him or his friends intentionally, so something had to happen, something had to go wrong," Cedillo's neighbor said.
Friends said Cedillo has a younger sister at West Haven High School.
Authorities are still investigating the crash. Anyone with information about what happened is urged to contact Orange police.