Two days after a teenager was struck and killed riding his bicycle on McBean Parkway in what law enforcement officials suspect was an accident, a parent who didn’t know 17-year-old Louie Barba laid flowers at a makeshift memorial for him on the side of the busy Valencia road Wednesday.
Ian Northrop has a daughter who attends a day care nearby, which put him moments away from witnessing Monday’s tragedy during his daily drop-off routine: First responders were dispatched to the intersection of Skycrest Circle and McBean for a collision involving a big rig and a bicyclist around 9 a.m.
Barba died at the scene of the crash, leaving a community and a family who loved him dearly to deal with grief of a tragic loss.
Louie Barba’s father, who shares the same name, spoke in a phone interview Wednesday about his son’s kindness, integrity, warmth and intelligence. The elder Barba’s voice was still hoarse because he’s been in agony since the loss of his son, he said.
He described his son as an “old soul,” who was so wise and understanding of human nature, he was able to provide him comfort in situations when you might have thought the opposite was the case.
“Sometimes we have situations and he … put his hands on my shoulder and say, ‘It’s OK, Dad, everything’s going to be OK.’ He would look at me with his eyes, with so much confidence, so much security. And he was right, because everything went OK.”
The father also praised his son’s respectful nature and his care for his fellow man.
In an emotional phone call, Louie Barba’s mother, Oksana Wegner, shared how her son, a senior at Academy of the Canyons, had just taken his senior portraits. He was making plans for college and wanted to attend UCLA, she said.
She lovingly referred to him as a “geography nerd” and a history buff with a seemingly encyclopedic recall of dates and facts.
During a family trip in New York for his birthday last month, he quickly learned the subway system and was acting as the family’s guide, she added. He always brought a positive energy into the room, she said.
His younger sister said Wednesday she was struggling with the loss of her “best friend.”
“We grew up together and it’s gonna be really hard for me to go on without him,” said Ivanna, 15. “He had such an influence on my life that I’ll never forget. And I know that I’ll carry on his ideas with me as I move forward in my life.”
His stepfather, Chris Wegner, called Louie a “real treasure.”
“He was kind, gentle, intelligent, creative, adventurous, and caring and loved his family and his friends with all his heart,” he said. “He touched a lot of people’s lives.”
Cynthia Bradbury, who has a son who became friends with Louie while the two were in elementary school, said Louie was someone who was always looking after his classmates and making sure everyone was OK. She also shared a link on social media for a communitywide effort to help with funeral expenses, which had received support from all over the community toward its $21,000 goal as of Wednesday.
The family is still working to make funeral arrangements, which are expected to be announced Thursday.
Louie Barba said he knew his son’s life was part of a higher purpose and that while he couldn’t understand, his faith in God gave him comfort.
“He was one of those angels who came to this world just for a period of time to show us the light,” Louie Barba said Wednesday, “and the goodness of this beautiful world that we live in.”
The GoFundMe link is gofundme.com/f/the-bright-star-we-lost-remembering-louie-barra.