Volunteer Dies In Sylmar Church Parking Lot During Food Drive
58-year-old Arturo Franco Melendez died Friday after being pinned between two vehicles during a food drive at a Sylmar church.
SYLMAR (CBSLA) — A 58-year-old man died Friday after being pinned between two vehicles during a food drive at First Southern Baptist Church in Sylmar.
Arturo Franco Melendez, who was volunteering at the time, is being remembered for always wanting to help others.
“There aren’t words to explain what a great human being he was,” Melendez’s widow Teresa said through a translator. “He was a great friend, a great brother and a great son.”
Melendez lived in San Fernando but had been volunteering twice a week at the food bank in Sylmar over the past few years.
“He was enthusiastic and it was such a delight to be around he seemed to enjoy what he was doing,” said Pastor Ray Grubb of Valley Hunger Relief Of Sylmar.
Police believe it’s possible the driver mistook the gas pedal for the brake pedal and hit Melendez as he was loading food donations into a car.
Church members say the driver was elderly and distraught by what happened. Police are still investigating but say it appears to have been a tragic accident and that no crime was committed.
Officials said new efforts are underway to protect volunteers at similar events.
“I understand the public’s anxiety and urgency to get the resources they need for their families; however, we can’t afford to put even more lives at risk,” said Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez, Chair of the City’s Public Safety Committee. “I urge the public to exercise greater caution and honor operating guidelines and exercise patience while you wait in line.”
A press release Friday said that Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez will introduce legislation to increase on-site traffic safety measures to ensure safe ingress and egress as well as proper loading procedures.
These measures will be put in place to protect volunteers and the public participating in these events.