SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - A grieving community came together to pay tribute to a student athlete killed in a hit-and-run in Southwest Miami-Dade.
Southridge High School on Friday remembered the life of 17-year-old Justin Rivera after he was fatally struck while out jogging, Oct. 29.
“Justin was an extraordinary young man, always positive, charismatic, said Southridge football coach Rick Munne. “Good times, bad times, always had a smile on his face, always upbeat,and that goes beyond football. He’s gonna leave a very positive lasting legacy with us and our program.”
Maria Rodriguez, 23, was arrested and was charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving a death.
As Rodriguez’s case plays out in court, family, friends and school staff looking back on Justin’s short life.
“He was always like a funny guy, always positive, never had anything that he like cried about, never had anything that he was like, he was never discouraged,” said Southridge football player Taylor Flemming. “He was just really positive, always wanted to help the team out, always asking for tips on how to get better. He was just a great kid in general.”
“Justin was such a wonderful student and all-around good person,” said Kenneth Williams, the principal of Robert Morgan Educational Center and High School. “Being able to sit with his mother and family during this time helped us more than it ever could have.”
Rivera attended school at Robert Morgan Educational Center, and since that school doesn’t have a football team, he played the gridiron game at Southridge.
Friday night’s homecoming game versus South Dade High School was played in the teen’s honor.
“We will never forget Justin,” said Southridge football player Kameron Coakley. “Justin will always be in our hearts, and tonight we’re gonna show him that we love him, and that we’re gonna win tonight just for Justin and his family.”
While the pain still runs deep, those out under the Friday night lights vowed not to forget this teen who brought light into their lives.
“It hits everybody. It hits the whole community, like Kam said, but the sad reality of it is just sometimes people are taken too soon, or rather than when you want them to be taken,” said Flemming, “but like we said, he’s always here with us, he’s never forgotten. We’ll always keep him in our hearts, in our prayers and in our memories.”
Copyright 2021 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.