INGLEWOOD (CBSLA.com) — As hundreds gathered to light candles and grieve for those lost in last week's deadly bus crash in Northern California, one of the victims — a student from Inglewood — is being called a hero.
Ismael Jimenez, one of two Animo Inglewood Charter High School students reportedly lost in the crash, is said to have smashed out a window on the bus and began voluntarily lifting other students to safety, despite the impending smoke and flames.
The other student lost was identified as Jimenez' friend, Denise Gomez.
"These days have been so different without him," Ismael's sister Evelin said. "It's been very hard, because you go to sleep thinking when you wake up, you'll see him, and I haven't seen him. So it's very difficult."
The school revealed Monday to the Jimenez family that Ismael's final moments were spent helping save the lives of others.
Animo Inglewood Charter High School released a statement on Ismael's actions amidst the tragedy:
"Ismael will be remembered as someone who forever affected the lives of young people he barely knew. He was indeed a hero."
Evelin Jimenez, meanwhile, takes solace in her brother's heroic actions under extraordinary circumstances.
"You know, me, I would think, 'let me save myself', and he went ahead and saved others before he saved himself, which, to me, is beautiful," Evelin said.
In addition to his kind nature, Ismael was also a gifted artist, painting portraits of others as well as himself. He had set a goal of going to college so he would be able to financially support his family.
His talented portraits, as well as the enduring accounts of his final moments, will serve to remind the Jimenez family of their exceptional son and brother.
"To know that he helped others means so much more than just knowing that he just passed away."
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