Fort Worth

Carter-Riverside ballplayer killed in crash was ‘always smiling’

Leonel Garcia.
Leonel Garcia. Courtesy

A Fort Worth teenager who died Wednesday from a car crash a few miles from his home will be remembered for his hard work and positive attitude, friends said Thursday.

Leonel Garcia, 17, was taken to the hospital after the crash in the 3500 block of North Beach Street, police said, and was pronounced dead Wednesday afternoon, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner.

Garcia’s baseball coach, David Lara, said Garcia was driving home from his job detailing cars at Five Star Ford in North Richland Hills and apparently lost control of his vehicle.

Garcia was a senior at Carter-Riverside High School and the baseball team’s starting second baseman.

“He always brought good vibes,” said teammate Pedro Arduello, the team’s catcher. “He worked really hard, just the kind of teammate that you would want.”

Arduello and shortstop Victor Lopez said Garcia was “always smiling.”

“I’ll remember his smile every day,” Lopez said. “You’d never see him having a bad day.”

Lara said Garcia balanced his many responsibilities well.

“He was doing well in classes, had a job, and juggled everything he had the right way,” Lara said.

Garcia made a big leap in baseball after his sophomore year, Lara said.

“We didn’t have him starting at the end of his sophomore year,” Lara said. “He worked hard through the summer and fall ball and became one of our better players ... and helped us make the playoffs. He was special for us.”

The baseball team’s first practice is on Jan. 30. Teammates will wear a patch with Garcia’s No. 9 on their hats during the season, which is dedicated to Garcia’s memory.

“It hit the team hard,” Lara said. “They’re a little beat up now, but trying to stay positive. We want to to honor him and his life and go about it how he would want us to react, to get back to work and push ourselves.

Classmates gathered at second base on the baseball field Thursday and released balloons in memory of Garcia, who leaves behind his parents and three siblings, Lara said.

“Everyone’s showing a lot of love toward his family,” Lara said.

Mark David Smith: 817-390-7808, @MarkSmith_FWST