2013-05-31 / Front Page

Simi boy killed when bike collides with semi-truck

Grieving mom remembers her son’s sense of humor, sweet smile
By Carissa Marsh

Jacob Sellers Jacob Sellers A Simi Valley youth was killed Saturday evening while riding bikes with a friend on Tapo Street.

Jacob Sellers, 12, was struck and killed by a Fresh & Easy semi-truck about 7:30 p.m. May 25 at Tapo and Alamo streets, according to the Simi Valley Police Department.

Police say the full-size truck was turning right from southbound Tapo Street onto westbound Alamo Street when the bicyclist hit the truck.

Jacob, a sixth-grader at Park View Elementary School, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said Jacob was riding with an 8-year-old friend at the time of the accident.

The 8-year-old, who was uninjured, is a son of Mike Murphy, the boyfriend of Jacob’s mother, Brenda Sellers. The boys were like brothers, the parents said.

As of press time, the cause of the accident was still under investigation.

Sgt. Alan Thompson, traffic unit supervisor, said the Fresh & Easy truck had made a delivery to the supermarket at 4473 Alamo St. just before the accident.

The driver cooperated with accident investigators after the crash, Thompson said, adding that there was no indication at the scene that drugs or alcohol was a factor and, based on the initial information available to investigators, the driver was not detained or arrested.

After the accident, police hoped residents would be able to shed some light on what caused the collision. That intersection tends to be busy at 7:30 p.m. on any week night and officers believe many people may have seen the crash.

“At this point there may still be witnesses to interview,” Thompson said Tuesday. “We did have a few more witnesses make themselves known to us. So the follow-up is being done in regards to that.”

In an interview Wednesday morning, Brenda Sellers said the police had not told her much about what may have caused the accident.

“The only thing I do know is I know that he was crushed under the back tires of the truck,” Sellers said. “I know that the truck dragged his bike some distance down the road, and it was somebody driving a Harley-Davidson that pulled up to the truck and told the driver he had hit somebody and needed to stop.”

Sellers said she was upset to hear speculation that her son was riding in the street.

“The bike he was on had brakes, he knew how to use his brakes. . . . So it breaks my heart that there are people mad because they think he was in the street riding his bike or he was assuming that he had the right of way, because that’s not Jacob, that’s not how he was,” she said.

“He was wearing his helmet. . . . He was doing everything he was supposed to be.”

Sellers, who lives off Alamo between Galena and Sequoia avenues, said the boys had pedaled to Valley View Middle School, where Jacob was slated to go next year, and were on their way home for dinner. They had been out riding for an hour or two and knew they had to be home by dusk.

“It’s just a tragic accident,” she said.

Remembering Jacob

Jacob had celebrated his 12th birthday a week before the accident.

His mom said he was much like other boys his age. He loved playing Xbox and building intricate sculptures with Lego bricks, and he also was an avid reader.

While he endured a bit of bullying last year due to his small frame, Jacob blossomed after a growth spurt this year, she said, making friends and even performing in the school play.

Sellers, who also has a 16-year-old daughter, said her son was bright and happy, sometimes stubborn, as preteen boys can be, but full of love.

“He had a very good sense of humor,” she said. “He was a very affectionate child; not a day went by that he didn’t tell me he loved me.”

Jacob had plans to join the Army when he was old enough. There was nothing more he wanted to do than serve in the military.

“It breaks my heart that I’m never going to get to see that,” Sellers said.

After Saturday’s accident, a memorial of flowers and stuffed animals had been set up at the crash site.

An online fundraiser has been organized in memory of Jacob to help his family pay for funeral expenses.

The GoFundMe online fundraising campaign was created May 26 with a goal of $10,000, which was met two days later.

As of Thursday afternoon, 179 people had donated a total of $13,645.

Sellers said the response from the community has been overwhelming, especially since many of the donors are total strangers.

Sellers is grateful for the money, which will help her bury her child, a prospect no mother wants to face.

She said she is also thankful for the community’s prayers and support, which have given her comfort and strength when she thought she would just fall apart.

“It’s like the entire community has adopted him as their own child. I’m absolutely floored at the outpouring, and I never would have expected it, especially with relocating here (from Las Vegas) just a few years ago,” she said.

“There are no words to describe the level of appreciation.”

When asked what she will remember most, what will carry her through the loss, Sellers said it is her son’s smile.

“Because he was always happy . . . I’m forever going to see that smile on his face.”

A memorial service for Jacob will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow, June 1, at Cornerstone Church, 2080 Winifred St.

The service and reception to follow are open to the public.

To contribute to the fundraising campaign, visit www.gofundme.com/JacobSellers.

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