Jakeline Castillo began to panic when her father bolted from the house about 4 a.m. Tuesday, telling her to stay behind and go back to sleep.
But little sleep was to be had as the 18-year-old Johnson High School junior worried that her mom, who was away at work, had been in an accident.
Her mom was fine, but the news was still bleak as she awoke a few hours later to learn that Jesus Martinez — her boyfriend the past eight months — had died in a car accident.
“I couldn’t believe it,” she said Wednesday. “It feels like a dream I can’t wake up from.”
Martinez, 17, was killed late Monday night in a wreck that authorities say stemmed from racing on Millside Parkway off Mundy Mill Road in Gainesville. Two drivers are facing charges.
Reeling from the tragedy, Castillo talked about Martinez and the relationship the two had shared. They had been together for two years, meeting at church, and, as of Sunday, would have been together eight months as girlfriend and boyfriend.
“He was a very happy person,” she said. “He always put a smile on everyone. He was very
kind and helped everyone who needed help.”
She said she and Martinez, who would have turned 18 on Nov. 28, had laid plans on Monday for him to pick her up on Wednesday to work on a “dream car” he had gotten.
After her dad left the house Tuesday morning, Castillo tried calling and texting Martinez.
“I was scared about what was happening (at home),” she said. “If only I had known it was him that was in the hospital.”
The tragedy also deeply affected Sebastian Valencia, a fellow senior at West Hall High School.
The two had known each other since kindergarten.
“He was a very humble person,” Valencia said. “He always put everybody else before him. He probably has the biggest heart of anybody I’ve ever known or met.”
Valencia said Martinez invited him to his church, Ebenezer Pentecostal Church, in Gainesville.
If that hadn’t happened, “I don’t think I would have ever found who or what God is and what he’s capable of.”
Gainesville Police had few other details Wednesday about the wreck, which took place about a quarter-mile from Mundy Mill Road.
Martinez was a passenger in a car driven by Brandon Eduardo Sanchez, 18, of Gainesville.
Sanchez, driving southbound on Millside Parkway, was “racing another vehicle when he lost control, crossed the median and struck a tree,” according to police.
The wreck happened about 11:45 p.m.
Authorities said Kevin A. Padilla Alvarez, 17, was driving the vehicle racing Sanchez.
Sanchez was taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in stable condition and released.
He has been charged with first-degree vehicular homicide, reckless driving, racing, failure to maintain lane, striking a fixed object and violation of a learner's permit. He was booked into the Hall County Jail.
Alvarez faces charges of party to first-degree vehicular homicide, racing and reckless driving, and was taken to the Hall County Jail, Gainesville Police Sgt. Kevin Holbrook said.
“This is a sad reminder that speed and careless driving are a deadly mix,” Holbrook wrote in a news release.
The police spokesman said he didn’t know how fast the drivers were going, “other than clearly above the posted speed limit.”
Holbrook added: “Our crash investigators are working to reconstruct the crash and develop as much of that information as possible.”