Thursday, July 19 , 2018, 12:40 am | Fair 64º

 
 
 
 

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Hundreds Gather in Carpinteria to Remember High School Senior Filiberto Hernandez

Community steps up to support family of teen who died in fall from Carpinteria bluffs

A candlelight vigil was held Tuesday night at Carpinteria High School to remember senior Filiberto Hernandez, who died in a fall from the Carpinteria bluffs. Click to view larger
A candlelight vigil was held Tuesday night at Carpinteria High School to remember senior Filiberto Hernandez, who died in a fall from the Carpinteria bluffs. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)
Filiberto Hernandez Click to view larger
Filiberto Hernandez

Words of remembrance mixed with tears and the glow of candles Tuesday night during a student-led vigil honoring 18-year-old Filiberto Hernandez, the victim of a fatal fall from the Carpinteria bluffs.

About 500 friends, classmates, community members and relatives gathered at Carpinteria High School’s outdoor amphitheater to remember Hernandez, whose lifeless body was discovered Monday morning.

People held hands and shared hugs. Many shed tears.

Before attendees spoke in remembrance of Hernandez, a lone violinist took out her instrument and played one piece of music to the silent crowd.

Vigil participants passed along flames, candle to candle, to honor Hernandez, also known as “Fili.”

Once the sun started to go down, a thick fog moved in, and the candles gave a soft glow to the darkness.

Standing before the crowd, friends recalled the high school senior as a Game of Thrones fan.

One friend recalled kindergarten memories, going to Disneyland, playing video games and attending a Van Halen rock concert with Hernandez. 

“I’m going to miss those childhood days,” said the friend. “He was my first best friend. He was a special person. We talked about graduating high school and walking across the stage together.”

During the remembrance, there also was laughter as people shared funny stories about Hernandez. 

Community members remembered his love of pizza, burgers, as well as him playing soccer and baseball when he was younger.

“We will all live on with him in our hearts,” one speaker said.

The auditorium was adorned with candles, red and white roses, handwritten notes and photographs.

A collection of handwritten messages from students in an environmental science class was posted near the concrete stage.

One message said, “We miss and love you.”

The service concluded with Hernandez’s mother speaking to the supporters.

Hernandez moved to Carpinteria when he was 1-year-old, his mother said.  

She thanked everyone for the act of love and support and being present to honor her son.

“It’s pure joy to grow up in Carpinteria,” she said. “This is an amazing group. To live in a community like this — this support is beyond my wildest dreams. Fili would be honored — he is honored. Our love goes out to all of you.”

Attendees raised their candles when Hernandez’s mother stepped off the stage. 

GoFundMe page, with a goal of $5,000, has been set up to help with the funeral expenses.

Hernandez was reported missing by his mother on Sunday was found dead Monday morning. 

According to authorities, a relative and friend of Hernandez were searching for him and called police when they found him unresponsive and not breathing at the bottom of the bluffs.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department identified Hernandez and is investigating the case.

Counselors were available at the vigil, and will continue to be accessible for students and staff at Carpinteria High School on an ongoing basis, according to Jamie Persoon, the administrator-in-charge for the district.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

A crowd of some 500 people fills the amphitheater at Carpinteria Tuesday night during a vigil to remember Filiberto Hernandez. Click to view larger
A crowd of some 500 people fills the amphitheater at Carpinteria Tuesday night during a vigil to remember Filiberto Hernandez. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

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