Edison High School Supports Family After Father of Student Dies in Water Heater Accident

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

STOCKTON -- It's severely scarred, but the house at 1629 Spring Street is still standing.

With one life lost there, the life of the Stockton family that once happily lived inside is crumpled --  scarred in a deeply different way after a water heater explosion during some early morning DIY repairs.

"I was on the bus, right over there, and I saw six fire trucks coming here," said Samuel Vigil.

He had no idea those trucks were rushing to his friend's burning home while he was headed to school.

"Yes flames, and I heard one explosion," Simon Balerio described.

With that startling sight in front of him, Balerio ran across the street to help where he could,  discovering his neighbor, father of three Jaime Gonzalez, on fire.

"He fall down, but inside, and I'm trying for help, and I pulled him inside to outside," recalling his attempted rescue from under a partially raised garage door. "I saw everything red, feel the (heat), the fire, but nothing happened to me.  I heard another explosion. He tried for running, everything burned, but he tried for running."

Balerio says Gonzalez was talking, asking for water as he left the horror of his home behind in an ambulance.

One of Gonzalez's sons witnessed the accident and watched paramedics trying to save his dad, but Gonzalez didn't survive the third-degree burns that the fire left on most of his body.

It's an unthinkable situation that now has the Edison High school family reaching out to help the Gonzalez family through a staff cookie cook-off and raising awareness about a new GoFundMe page.

Their efforts are intense because of their love for one of Jaime's sons -- senior standout Daniel.

"Two words come to mind -- outstanding and awesome," said AP U.S. history teacher Angelo Sandoval as he described an 18-year-old who carries a GPA above 4.0.

"They've raised a child that people really care about here at Edison and people are looking out for him," Brad Franca shared with a smile.

Watching Daniel in his AP government class, Franca says Daniel is the kind of kid who's funny, energetic, eager to help classmates and always puts out maximum effort.

What do they want their stance of support to say to the Edison Viking who's now homeless and heartbroken?

"Don't worry about the home or the finances, just focus on grieving. Again, it's unimaginable. Senior year he's supposed to be worried about prom. Right now he's supposed to be worried about 'what do I get for Christmas,' not where are we going to live and how do I live without my father," said Sandoval.

If you'd like to join the effort to help the Gonzalez family, you can donate here.