CONCORD, CA (Apr. 24, 2022) — Rain mixed with tears on the morning of April 16 as close to 60 people and one small dog assembled at Olympic High School for a memorial bike ride to honor Jose Castillo.
The 16-year-old, who had recently immigrated from El Salvador, was struck and killed Feb. 25 while riding his bicycle home from Mt. Diablo High School.
The sun emerged as the procession pedaled through downtown Concord, led by members of Bike Concord and Bike East Bay. Along the three-mile route, they stopped at Mt. Diablo High School and the scene of his death – where a white ghost bike has been installed.
A grieving school family
At Mt. Diablo High, the crowd heard from Mary Gail Snyder, who teaches English as a Second Language. Jose was one of her students. Through tears, she expressed deep sadness for the loss of the bright and eager new immigrant.
Chris Carlay, social work specialist and coordinator of the Diablo Community Center (DCC), described how the school community has been impacted, noting that counselors helped students process the death.
Sophomore Anahi Nava Flores spoke passionately about how Jose’s immigration story is a strong connecting point for many of the students.
“He was one of us,” she said, sharing that they wrote letters to the family and helped raise funds to send his body home for burial. Anahi air-dropped a link to a second GoFundMe account to help raise additional money for the Castillo family in El Salvador.
There were also calls for the community to adopt a culture of safety and recognize that slowing down and watching out for each other will help eliminate needless deaths and injuries on our roadways.
Outpouring of support
Near the intersection of Clayton Road and Galindo Street, the group dismounted and adorned the white bike with flowers. The moment was somber as one family member’s words were translated for the predominantly English-speaking group. His message of thanks was cut short by his emotions.
Back at Olympic High School, home to Bike Concord’s community bike shop, the crowd heard from other community leaders.
Mt. Diablo Principal Lorne Barbosa expressed appreciation to Bike Concord and Bike East Bay for sponsoring the event. “I am moved to see so many people and thankful for the opportunity to embrace his family out here,” she said.
“The tragic loss of a student is incredibly sad,” said Cherise Khaund, Mt. Diablo Unified School District trustee for area 4.
Khaund added that she will continue to work for safe bike and walking routes throughout the school district. She was successful in organizing bike lanes and crosswalks at her neighborhood schools and has taught her own and many other children to ride a bike.
School board trustee Erin McFerrin of area 5 thanked everyone for coming out on the wet day, calling it a testament to the community’s support for the Castillo family. A friend who teaches at the school told her: “Jose will always be a part of our community at Mt. Diablo.”
Making memorial permanent
Bike Concord, founded in 2014, is a grassroots organization working for safe, convenient and enjoyable bicycling in our community. The group has submitted a Ghost Bike Adopt-a-Spot application (No. 26094) to the city of Concord to make the memorial permanent.
If approved, Bike Concord will maintain the white bike as a reminder to drivers, cyclists and pedestrians that Jose Castillo’s life mattered.
To support the permanent installation, email email@example.com.
Laura Nakamura is a Concord resident, Bike Concord advocate, member of the Concord Community Alliance and a 2022 Concord City Council hopeful. Contact her at Imnakamura610@gmail.com.