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Family of Autistic Man Struck & Killed by Vehicle Seeking Assistance with Funeral Costs

Family of Autistic Man Struck & Killed by Vehicle Seeking Assistance with Funeral Costs

VICTORVILLE – The family of a young autistic man who was struck and killed by a vehicle on Wednesday after going missing for several hours is reaching out for donations to help them with funeral costs.

Rudy “Bubba” Gonzales, 19,  went missing on Tuesday afternoon just after noon. A family member called the mother of Rudy who was running errands to let her know that he had walked away from their home, located on the 15400 block of Ferndale Road wearing only a t-shirt and pajama pants with no shoes. The death of his grandfather, Jerry Villareal, who Rudy was very close to according to Rudy’s sister Ruby, triggered his wandering away from home since his death two years ago. “He missed my grandfather so much,” said Ruby Mendoza.

Rudy’s mother rushed home and the family began their search. At 4:00 p.m. they still did not find Rudy so they reported him missing.  Deputies responded to their home and collected information and a photo of Rudy. The search for Rudy, who was identified as critically missing due to his autism, immediately began using patrol cars, the sheriff’s helicopter, and a K9 unit, but hours later, they still could not find Rudy.

The family went back out to look for Rudy until around 2:00 a.m. then returned home worried and exhausted. They hoped deputies would be able to find him using the tools available to them. His sister Ruby said that the family got a knock on the door at around 4:00 a.m. Two officers were at their door and they came into the home asking again to see a photo of Rudy. “We kept asking, did you find him?” said Ruby Mendoza. “They then showed us a photo of a man who turned out to be Bubba.” The deputies explained that they found Rudy badly injured after being struck by a vehicle on Air Expressway in the City of Victorville. They told the family that when he was transported to the hospital he was still breathing. They also told the family that he would be transported to Arrowhead Medical Center, in Colton for treatment of his injuries.

The family rushed to be by Rudy’s side at Arrowhead Medical Center, where they were told he would be. “When we got to the hospital they didn’t have him there,” explained Mendoza. “We called other hospital he was at, Victor Valley Hospital. We then rush to get back up the hill. We got to the hospital were other family members met us. They took us all into a little room where they told us the devastating news.Bubba didn’t make it.”  

Victorville Station officials said that the collision was reported by the driver of the vehicle at around 3:50 a.m. Gonzalez was rushed to Victor Valley Global in preparation to be transported to Arrowhead Regional Hospital, but died as a result of his injuries, canceling the transport. Commuters woke up to Air Expressway closed from Nevada Avenue to Adelanto Road due to the investigation.

The news of Rudy’s death was a shock to the family who is now grief-stricken. The family shared that they just celebrated Rudy’s 19th birthday in March and never expected to lose him at such a young age. “All of you who knew Bubba knew that he wasn’t the easiest person to talk to but if you had the patience with him he was the most amazing, sweet, funny, and loving boy in the world,” explained his sister, Ruby. “Rudy was loved by so many people and he touched so many hearts.”  

Ruby said that Rudy loved going to the movies, the fair, and Costco. He also loved celebrating his favorite holiday, Halloween each year. Rudy enjoyed watching flags blowing in the wind, coloring, and playing cards with his best friend, Sergio Garcia, who is also his one-on-one at school. “He was also going to walk this month with cap and gown with the  Victor Valley High School Grads,” she explained with pride, “We were so proud and happy for him.”


Rudy leaves behind his devastated mother, Erlinda Villareal, his stepfather, who had been in his life since he was 7-years-old, Joe Mendoza, two younger brothers, Jay who is 7-years-old and Joe who is 10-years-old, and Ruby, who is 23-years-old. He also was an uncle to five nieces and nephews who all loved him very much. 

Ruby said that her family received a comforting call on Wednesday night, a call from Deputy Carty from the Adelanto Station who was able to speak about some of the last moments of Rudy’s young life. “He said that he was with him holding his hand when he arrived at the scene,” said Ruby.  “He said that he looked scared but he wasn’t alone.”

The family is seeking donations through a Go Fund Me account so that they can focus on healing from the sudden and tragic loss of Rudy.

The family will be holding a candlelight vigil on Friday, May 4, 2018, at 6:30 p.m. and the candle lighting will begin at 7:30 p.m. The vigil will be held on Air Expressway and Emerald in the City of Victorville. The public is welcome to attend. Ruby also would like to encourage the city to place street lights and/or sidewalks in the area in order to prevent future accidents like the one that took her brother’s life.

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Christie Martin

Reporter at 24/7 Headline News
Integrity is unbelievably important when reporting. I believe in getting to the bottom of the story while being sensitive to the fact that the "story" affects real lives.I am committed to bringing important news, events, and other information to those in my community and beyond.


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Image Sources:

  • Untitled design (35): Ruby Garcia|Facebook & Go Fund Me