PHARR, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Rodolfo Hernandez, also known by friends and family as ‘Rudy’, was a sophomore and JROTC Cadet Staff Sergeant at PSJA Southwest Early College High School.
He died Thursday after he was hit by a vehicle near South Jackson Road and Ridge Road in Pharr.
Police said the 19-year-old driver, Fernando Balladarez, failed to stop and render aid. He was arrested the next day and is charged with an accident involving personal injury or death.
As a way to raise money for Rudy’s funeral, friends and classmates gathered on Sunday afternoon – just across the street from the accident – to sell Mole plates and accept donations.
The family has also set up a GoFundMe to help with additional expenses.
Friend and classmate Natalie Reyes shared, “There was never a dull moment when it came to Rudy. He was always happy. He changed the mood of the room. You would see everyone quiet and then the next thing you know; Rudy comes in and everybody starts laughing because he would break the silence. Being in a class with him was just amazing.”
In just half an hour, Rudy’s friends and classmates sold over 120-Mole plates with dozens of community members continuing to stop by to support and donate money to the cause.
“He would always take out the best in all of us; make us happy and make us laugh even when we were sad,“ says classmate Camila Villanueva.
Other classmates added that Rudy was, “very energetic,” and, “loved his friends a little too much,” as they laughed and remembered their most cherished memories of Rudy.
“He had amazing dance moves,” said another classmate. “He loved to sing.”
While family and friends say Rudy’s death has been painful, they will never forget the boy who always wore a smile and will continue to be loved by many.