An aspiring Eagle Scout from the Northeast lost his life in an automobile accident on Saturday after spending the morning doing volunteer work in Pennypack Park.
The tragedy occurred at about 12:36 p.m. on eastbound Red Lion Road near Northeast Airport, Philadelphia police said. Christopher Alvelo, 17, and three other teens were passengers in a Ford pickup truck when the driver, Alvelo’s 51-year-old stepfather, lost consciousness.
Alvelo, the front-seat passenger, grabbed the wheel and attempted to navigate the truck around a left-hand turn onto Norcom Road, but the truck veered down an embankment and crashed into a Chevrolet Paratransit bus parked outside the North Philadelphia Jet Center, police said. The truck narrowly missed a tank of flammable heating oil, according to news reports.
Alvelo, a student at New Foundations Charter School in Holmesburg, died at the scene. His stepfather was taken to Aria Health Torresdale in critical condition. Police did not disclose the nature of his initial medical emergency.
The three teens who were in the back seat of the crew cab-style truck — ages 15, 16 and 18 — were taken separately to Aria Health Torresdale and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in stable condition. Police did not disclose their injuries.
Peter Kurtz, manager of the Pennypack Environmental Center at 8600 Verree Road, said that Alvelo was cleaning a pond in the park’s nature sanctuary that morning, as well as helping to repair some trails near in the area.
“I saw him Saturday morning. It’s very sad,” Kurtz said.
The youths reportedly were on their way home from the park when the crash occurred. On Monday evening, family and friends of the victim gathered for a candlelight vigil outside of New Foundations, at Rhawn Street and Torresdale Avenue.
Relatives reportedly described Alvelo’s volunteer work as the last step in his Eagle Scout service project. ••