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Polk County 13-year-old dies after being hit by truck while waiting for school bus

Jadin Galindo lived in Lake Wales and attended McLaughlin Middle School. His dad says he was autistic and was brilliant, creative, and ambitious.

LAKE WALES, Fla. — A 13-year-old was hit and killed by a truck just after 6 a.m. Friday while waiting for his bus, the Lake Wales Police Department said.

Jadin Galindo was sitting near the center of a paved alleyway about 30 feet from Dr. J.A. Whiltshire Avenue when he was hit by a GMC Sierra truck that turned into the alleyway, according to a news release.

"It was dark and foggy," the police explained. "There were no street lights in the immediate area, only ambient light from nearby Florida's Natural plant."

The agency said the 13-year-old lived in Lake Wales and attended McLaughlin Middle School. He was taken to the nearby hospital where he died from his injuries. 

Police said the 47-year-old driver and her 33-year-old passenger were not hurt while adding that neither speed nor impairment appeared to be factors in the crash. They are who called 911.

"This is a heartbreaking loss for the McLaughlin community. We do have counselors on campus today to provide support to students and employees," a Polk County Schools spokesperson said in a statement.

10 Tampa Bay spoke with several people in the neighborhood where the bus stop was and all said they've had ongoing concerns about the area's safety, particularly the lack of lighting.

"We need to put up a bus area for the kids," Tiffany Rudolph said. "Put up some lights! In some areas around town, you see flashing lights and signs. We need that here." 

While the neighborhood is quiet, the roadways remain busy as workers at the nearby Florida's Orange plant come and go. 

"People are speeding up and down this street all the time," Rudolph said. "The people get off, they're tired, they want to get homes to their families." 

On Friday night, Jadin's father Joel Galindo said he was in shock.

"It's devastating. There are no other words to say other than it's devastating," Galindo said. "I don't wish this upon anybody, for something like this to happen, I don't wish it upon anybody." 

Jadin was the oldest of four kids. His father says he had autism and was smart, creative and ambitious.

"He was looking to be a movie director. He loved movies, he loved transformers," his father said. "He said 'I want to be like Michael Bay,' and I said, 'you're going to be better than Michael Bay,' and he said yeah dad, you're right." 

He was an imaginative, loving boy with a bright future. Now, his father hopes action will be taken to prevent other families from going through what they have gone through.

"Hopefully the school district or whoever is in charge of these things does the right thing in making this bus stops safe," Galindo said.

The Galindo family is raising money for Jadin's funeral. If you'd like to contribute, click here.

Galindo was part of the ESE program at McLaughlin and was beloved by the staff, the spokesperson said. He enjoyed caring for the animals at the school's agriculture unit. 

“He was a beacon of light on campus,” McLaughlin Principal Dr. Debra Hudson said. “His personality and energy impacted everyone he met. The students in his class, and our entire school family will miss him.”

Galindo was in the eighth grade and was looking forward to becoming a high school freshman at McLaughlin next year, Hudson said. She said the school plans to make Jadin an honorary member of his graduating class in the future.

“We’re going to save a seat for him,” she said.

The police department added, "Our hearts break for all those involved and the loss of such a young man."

Anyone who might have additional information about the crash is asked to call Traffic Homicide Investigator Meyers at the Lake Wales Police Department at 863-678-4223. Tips can also be submitted anonymously by calling Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS.

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