MERCEDES, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The Mercedes community coming together on Friday to honor Jaime Garcia Jr. who was killed last weekend in a car crash.

“In such a tragic moment, the students came together to celebrate his birthday with his family,” said Kacey Sauceda, LPC Associate for Mercedes ISD.

On Friday, Garcia would have turned 19 years old. His life was taken when he was hit by a drunk driver April 30th in Weslaco. Family, friends and the community honored Garcia with a balloon release. 

“Our students were really quick to come together to show the love that they have for him and so they moved quickly you know to make sure that Jaime was celebrated properly and with honor,” said Sauceda.

An emotional gathering as many in attendance spoke about the impact Garcia left on their lives. They shared he will forever leave a mark on his community.

“Anytime you would see him pass him in the hallway he would always present you with a smile on his face so you know he will be greatly missed but that smile is going to remain in our in our memories and in our hearts forever,” said Michelle Guerra, Dean of Instruction at Mercedes High School.

The balloon release was a way for loved ones to wish Garcia a happy birthday and feel close to him. 

“It’s a beautiful celebration to write a message for Jaime on his birthday and just let him know our thoughts are with him our prayers are with him and that he’s still in our hearts,” said Guerra.

Garcia was set to graduate from Mercedes High School this month and had enlisted in the navy. The high school will be putting out his cap and gown on graduation day as a way to honor his life and accomplishments.