Saturday, April 12, 2014
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Michael Myvett and Mattison Haywood were headed together toward a college in the California redwoods where he once was a student and now was taking teens with dreams of doing the same. Also on the horizon: A wedding.
But they would never make it to either.
The Los Angeles couple spent their last moments together in a fiery crash after a FedEx tractor-trailer rammed a charter bus on a Northern California freeway, killing Myvett, Haywood and eight others.
The couple were chaperones on the bus, which was carrying would-be students from Southern California to Humboldt State University, officials and relatives said Friday.
"He just died," Myvett's grandmother Debra Loyd told The Associated Press, her voice cracking. "He was my grandson, the greatest grandson any grandparent could ever have."
She said she got the call from authorities in the late morning Friday, and they asked for dental records to confirm his death.
Myvett, a therapist for autistic children, was a "bubbly and positive man" beloved by all. He had given Haywood an engagement ring at the Louvre in Paris on Christmas Day, his employers said.
Myvett had worked at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders in Torrance for two years. He was "able to connect with our kids on a level few others could, and he contributed to their wellbeing in such a positive and profound way," the center's operations manager Kyle Farris said in a statement.
Another fateful pair, teen twin sisters form Southern California, found starkly different paths when they got on two buses headed for Humboldt.
Marisol Serrato, 17, who'd been accepted to the school, arrived without incident Thursday.
Her sister Marisa, five minutes younger and on the school's wait list, went unaccounted for hours before her body was identified Friday night.
"Marisol is devastated," brother Miguel Serrato said.
Another student, Adrian Castro, was a senior and a football player at El Monte High School east of Los Angeles who was considering going to a California state university nearer to home but decided to give faraway Humboldt a chance and a visit.
"He told me two days ago, 'Should I go up and check it out anyway?'" said father Raul Castro, who would see his son for the last time when he dropped him off for the trip on Thursday morning.
Later that night he got a call from Adrian's mother, who had heard from the California Highway Patrol that he had died.
"Adrian Castro will be missed as a student and football player," El Monte football coach Joel Sanchez told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. "He was a good young man with a bright future. He will always be remembered by the El Monte family."
The third chaperone, 26-year-old Arthur Arzola of Rancho Cucamonga, was an admissions counselor for the Northern California university who lived and recruited students in the Los Angeles area.
In his online bio for the job, which shows him with slick hair and broad grin in the forest-green colors of Humboldt State, he called himself "thoughtful, compassionate and friendly," and said he liked to walk on the beach when he visited Humboldt.
A university statement praised him for his passionate commitment to helping low-income and first-generation students get into college.
Associated Press writers Tami Abdollah in Los Angeles and Lisa Leff in San Francisco contributed to this report.