PALMDALE – Family members have established an online fundraiser for Daniel Orellana, the man killed Saturday when his car burst into flames after it was rear-ended by an alleged drunk driver.
The money raised will go directly to Daniel’s parents to help with his memorial expenses and to ease their financial burden in this dark time, according to Daniel’s cousin, Joseph Morales, who created the fundraising page.
“[Daniel] was an amazing young man, he worked hard and didn’t drink or smoke,” Joseph Morales said. “He was such a good kid and he had his whole life ahead of him.”
To donate to this effort, visit http://www.gofundme.com/f9zu3g.
Daniel, 21, died inside his burning Mitsubishi Eclipse in the early morning hours of Saturday, Sept. 27. The car burst into flames after it was rear-ended by a Mitsubishi Lancer at the intersection of Avenue S and Sierra Highway in Palmdale, Sheriff’s officials said.
The Lancer’s driver, 23-year-old Jeffrey Brooks, was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, and alcohol is believed to be a factor in the collision, Sheriff’s officials said.
Brooks bailed out of jail a day after the fatal crash, and no charges have yet been filed in connection with the incident.
“He [Jeffrey Brooks] should just man up and accept what he did, take responsibility for taking a life and being drunk,” Joseph Morales said.
At the time of the crash, Daniel had been driving home from his security job in Burbank.
“He would get off work at 3 in the morning, and then he would have to drive from [Burbank] all the way to Palmdale,” Joseph Morales said. Daniel’s father was worried when his son didn’t make it home or call, so he went out looking for his son and saw the burning car, Joseph Morales said, adding that the collision scene was “right down the street” from Daniel’s home.
“He told the sheriffs, ‘my son drives a car like that,’ but they sent him home; and at 11 [a.m.], they brought Daniel’s wallet and said it was found in the car,” Joseph Morales said. “Where he was sitting didn’t burn as bad so they were able to retrieve the wallet from his back pocket.”
Daniel, who would have been 22 on Nov. 19, was attending Antelope Valley College as well as working. The Van Nuys High School graduate had moved to Palmdale with his parents about two years ago, his cousin said.
Family members have gathered at the Palmdale home to console Daniel’s parents, who are still unable to claim their son’s body, Joseph Morales said.
“They have him down as a John Doe because his body was burned so bad they couldn’t identify him,” Joseph Morales said. “They’re trying to do dental records, and if they can’t identify him with that, they’re going to do DNA…”
“We would like people to just pray for him and his parents; what the family needs right now is prayers.”
UPDATE: The body of Daniel Orellana has now been identified through dental records, and his family will be able to claim his body at noon on Thursday, Oct. 2.
Previous related story: 1 dead, 1 arrested after fiery rear-end crash in Palmdale