It was nearly impossible to drive on John F. Kennedy Boulevard near the Union City/North Bergen border this evening as hundreds gathered near Union City High School to bid farewell to Bryan Rodriguez and Noel Herrera.
With Union City and North Bergen police monitoring traffic with the right side of the street closed off between 25th and 26th Streets on JFK Boulevard, hundreds of students, parents, friends, family and everyone in between came to pay their respects.
The vast majority of students showed up with white balloons with messages written on them in marker, such as “we love and miss you Bryan/Noel,” before releasing them into the sky in a symbolic gesture.
The scene also revealed that parts of a fence had been bent and broken in front of 2625 JFK Blvd., as well as broken tree limbs, where the vehicle was halted to a stop in the immediate aftermath of the crash.
On the same fence, an area had posters hung up in front of a long row of candles and flowers in the memories of Rodriguez and Herrera, as well as bouquets of flowers near the end of the fence on 26th Street – which also had a full color “in loving memory of” picture of Rodriguez.
In a particularly sad scene, Roxana Rodriguez, Bryan’s mother, reached out and touched the picture before sending a kiss to her son in the midst of hysterical crying – prompting family members, friends and a Union City police officer to try and calm her down.
The vigil was just hours after officials revealed in North Bergen Town Hall that Eric Patterson, 23, of Jersey City, had been charged with the fatal accident.
Patterson is accused of driving 74 miles per hour in a 25 miles per hour zone when he mounted the sidewalk with his silver 2004 Infinity G-35 and hit three teens.
The third teen, Miguel Sanchez, 16, of Union City, remains in critical condition and is being treated at the Jersey City Medical Center.