Teenager killed in ATV crash will be remembered as someone who helped others and loved his family - East Idaho News

Teenager killed in ATV crash will be remembered as someone who helped others and loved his family

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VICTOR — Michael Hernandez Parra, 14, will be remembered as a boy who was caring and looked to help his fellow classmates, neighbors, and family.

Michael’s mother, Sandra Hernandez, said her son has always been a really good kid. He was the type of person who would be on his four-wheeler in the winter, attached with a plow, finding driveways in the neighborhood to clean out snow. 

“I mean, without even neighbors asking him to or even us telling him to, he would go and clean neighbors’ houses and sidewalks,” Sandra said. 

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What happened

The teen died in an ATV crash in Teton County on Saturday, June 8. 

Michael was the oldest in his family. He had three younger siblings and lived in Victor with his mom and dad, Miguel. 

Sandra and Miguel were not there at the time of the crash. They were in Idaho Falls. 

“We told him we were going to go to Idaho Falls. We asked if he wanted to come. He said no. He’s like, ‘I’m going to stay home with my grandma…and I want to be here with the kids.’ So he stayed. He had stayed (too) because it was my nephew’s birthday,” Sandra said. 

She added that her mother — Michael’s grandma — had just gotten knee surgery recently and he liked to assist her and spend time with her. 

They told Michael, while they were gone, not to use the ATV. 

“We had to talk to him about…no using the four-wheeler when there’s more kids. So he was aware,” Sandra said. “We had talked to him at 3:20 p.m. My husband had FaceTimed him.”

The crash happened nearly 20 minutes later at 664 West and 6000 South. Michael was the driver and a friend was with him in the red Suzuki King Quad 750. They hit a tree and both were ejected, according to Idaho State Police. Michael’s friend was taken by ambulance to a local hospital and Sandra said he is doing okay. 

“Around 3:50 p.m., my brother called me and said Michael had an accident,” she said. “I spoke to one of the EMTs at the Driggs hospital and they said that this accident was worse than what they believed, and he needed to be flown to Idaho Falls.”

The hospital 

He was taken to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center. Sandra and Miguel were not allowed to see their son at the time as medical personnel worked on him, she said. They were taken to a room with no windows.

“They brought us water and gave us Kleenex, and we knew that this wasn’t going to be good,” she said. 

They waited and then got the news. 

“The doctor came back and said, ‘They did all they could. They did CPR on him twice, and he didn’t make it,'” she recalls. “I was thinking how unfair life was. How could this have happened to him? I was wondering why this didn’t happen to me. Why him? Why not me?”

RELATED | One youth dies after two juveniles eject from ATV in Teton County

What she knows

As Sandra reflects on what happened to Michael that day, she thinks she might know.

“I believe what we now know is that he had gone to Victor to the grocery store because there was a bag with Red Bull’s, juices, and sodas…they were bringing drinks back for the kids,” she said. 

However, she was surprised at the road he had taken.

“He never takes that road. I don’t know what he did to take that road. Our conclusion is he must have caught a little bit of dirt on the side and lost control,” Sandra said.

Michael had a helmet but was not wearing it in that moment. His friend didn’t wear one either. 

She said she and her family have learned an important lesson.

“Safety first. Always wear a helmet,” she said. “When I leave, take things with me or put things away where they’re not able to reach anything like keys.”

Remembering Michael 

He attended Teton Middle School and had recently finished 8th grade. He was part of a program called “Latinos in Action.” He gave service to others and his first language was Spanish.

“There were several students that got here from Mexico and didn’t know the language, and he was always the one that would become friends with them and help them out,” Sandra said. “There were a lot of kids at the funeral that told us, ‘He was the one that never laughed at me because I didn’t know. Always offered to help do homework when I didn’t understand it.'”

People knew Michael at the local grocery store. He was the “kid with the curly hair.”

“About two months ago, he and a friend opened a small detail car cleaning (business), and they were cleaning cars,” Sandra said. “I mean, it’s amazing how much Michael did in his short time.” 

He liked playing soccer and would ski during the winter. Michael hunted with his dad. 

He had told his parents all the time that he loved them. 

“What I miss most about him is definitely his laugh and the way he always wanted to joke around with us and hug us,” Sandra said. 

Courtesy Sandra Hernandez
Michael with his parents and siblings. | Courtesy Sandra Hernandez

Support from the community

There has been an outpouring of love and support for Sandra and her family. Hundreds of people showed up at a funeral for Michael. His soccer team, soccer coach, teachers, and principal, along with friends, gave their condolences.

Sandra said her family is Catholic, and a Father delivered a beautiful message at Mass that comforted her. 

She is grateful to those who have donated to their family on GoFundMe

“We do believe in the power of prayer and our family has really felt it,” she said.

Her son will always be remembered and loved. 

“It makes us think life is very precious, and in the blink of an eye, everything can change,” she said. “He was our first child and he was the first one that left.”