Front of school now memorial

Esteban Serrano, Lead Editor

Nearly a month ago on April 7, the students and staff had long since left campus, and the breezy sunset air did not stop bicyclists from embracing the downtown night. However, tragedy struck as Cyclist Beatrice Gonzalez reportedly waiting for her group to catch up, was hit by a woman who was then suspected of driving under the influence.

According to reports from The Express News and KSAT, 24-year-old Samantha Leigh Castillo has been charged with intoxication manslaughter in connection with the incident. Her bond has been set at $50,000.

But while justice was served, the Central Catholic community has been “awoken” by this incident. This coming from the words of Ali Goljahmofrad, Dean of Students, in an emotional interview. “I got a chance to talk to the brother of the victim, and he just thanked Central Catholic profusely for allowing that gathering to take place right in front of the school.”

He’s talking about a gathering on April 8, where bicyclists alike from around the city, came together to mourn the loss. Hundreds of bikes and the athletes themselves surrounded both sides of St. Mary’s street on campus, and the parking lot of the KSAT 12 studios. “Her ‘ghost bike,’ is chained to our sign out front,” Goljahmofrad says. He continues, “That’s going to stay there for 44 days, as a spot where people can come more and pay their respects.”

The 44 days represent the age she was when she was killed. It will stay until May 21, marking the end of the 44 days.

“As I watched them gather, of course, in addition to just a heavy heavy heart, I kept thinking, “This is what San Antonio is,” Goljahmofrad says. “This cyclist group is a microcosm of San Antonio, and like Central Catholic is a microcosm of San Antonio. These groups of people that represent family. I thought, this is why I love my city. This is why I love our city, because of things like this.”

Goljahmofrad also says that now deemed school President, Jason Longoria, spoke with some of the family of the victim. He was also willing to provide an interview to the Pep on his experience with the cyclists, and what he took from it.

“Normally any loss in life, whether on our steps or anywhere is tragic. It’s just a shock to the world with sudden passings,” Longoria starts. He continues, “The fact that this has hit close to home means even more for Central Catholic, and just me personally seeing that happen right at our doorstep, it let’s us know that life is very fragile and can be taken in an instant. The fact that she was talking to her daughter when she was struck just makes you think of your family- who could you be talking to, and before you know it could be the end?”

The Junior Ring Ceremony had just finished the night of April 8, when the vigil took place. While Mr. G was finishing his job at that ceremony, he then went to the front of the school, along with President Longoria, in which he met two of the victim’s friends. “These two friends that I met were very close with her because of the downtown bike community,” Longoria says. “Hearing her stories, she seemed like the most giving person,” he continues on. Both Goljahmofrad and Longoria say that there is a moral to this story, and one that no one should take for granted- that life is short. “Take every day as a blessing,” Longoria says. “You just never know when God has a plan for you or when God says I need you up here.”

“The beautiful and most difficult thing about this human experience is that we cannot get away from the fact that we are absolutely interconnected,” Goljahmofrad says. “I know that as I saw that cyclist community come together, I know that as I saw Mr. Longoria speak to event organizers and family members. It’s like we have no connection to these people, we know her first and last name and nothing about her, but, we have heavy hearts, we share spaces of grieving that happen to be at our steps. We will never get away from that and that is a beautiful things,” Goljahmofrad continued emotionally. He adds, “It was also a confirmation to me that there is exponentially more good in the world than bad. I think tragedy highlights that.”

The ghost bike is currently still in front of the school on the historic landmark sign on St. Mary’s Street. We have reached out to connections with the victim’s family for an interview, but have understandably yet to respond. On behalf of the Central Catholic school community and from us at The Pep, we send our dearest condolences to friends and family of the victim.

Mr. Cassler
Mr. Cassler