BLADEN COUNTY, NC (WECT) - A student at West Bladen High School has died due to injuries suffered in a car wreck over the weekend, according to school officials.
West Bladen Principal Peggy Hester said in a letter to parents that Aldo Hernandez, an 11th grader at the school, died Monday afternoon.
“This is a great loss for all of us,” Hester wrote in the letter.
Hernandez, 18, was a passenger in a vehicle that crashed after exiting a curve on Butler Mill Road in Bladenboro around 1:50 p.m. The North Carolina Highway Patrol said the 17-year-old driver ran off the roadway to the right, overcorrected, ran off the road to the left and struck a ditch. Hernandez, who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, was ejected from the vehicle.
Jessica Christian heard a “loud thud” when the vehicle crashed in front of her home and ran outside to see if she could help.
“The first thing I did was make sure he had a pulse and to make sure he was alive ... and he was alive,” Christian recalled. She said she provided first aid until paramedics could arrive to help Hernandez.
“I remember rubbing his head, comforting him the best I could, telling him help was on the way,” Christian said.
Hernandez and the 17-year-old driver were both airlifted from the scene. The driver was treated and later released from the hospital. A third occupant in the vehicle suffered minor injuries.
“We knew when the helicopter came it was going to be bad,” said Alexa Hernandez, Aldo’s sister.
Alexa Hernandez said at 5′1′' Aldo was small in stature but with a big personality.
“Who didn’t know him, everyone knew him, he was known as the little big man of Bladen County,” Hernandez said.
His three siblings described him as a happy, energetic, athlete, and lover of children who never met a stranger.
Alexa Hernandez said he fought for two days clinging to life before finally succumbing to severe head injuries.
“They said he wouldn’t make it through the night, he did. Then they said he wouldn’t make it until morning he did. We all said goodbye to him so many times, he was a fighter, he just was not giving up,” Alexa said.
No alcohol is suspected in the crash and charges against the driver are pending, according to Highway Patrol.
“Aldo was a great guy, he loved to play football and baseball,” said Katie Guyton, a friend of Hernandez. “He was the happiest person you’ll ever meet. Every time you saw him he had a huge smile on his face. He was tiny but he had the biggest heart out of anyone I knew. He impacted a lot of people’s lives and he will be missed by a lot of people.”
Hernandez was set to graduate from West Bladen High School this year and planned to become a welder after graduation, according to family. He was on his way to work at Hardee’s at the time of the crash.
“Aldo donated his organs, his eyes, and his heart. He’s going to live on in this world,” said Jason Espino, Hernandez’s brother.
Principal Hester said additional guidance counselors were at the West Bladen Monday to help students and staff during the grieving process.
“Our school and community have pulled together to respond to this situation with sensitivity and caring of our student’s emotional needs," Hester wrote.
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