LAUDERHILL, FLA. (WSVN) - Loved ones are mourning the loss of a man who, police said, was struck and killed in Lauderhill after he stopped to help a stranded driver.
7News cameras captured a growing memorial at the scene of the crash along the 2600 block of North State Road 7, Thursday night.
Red and white flowers and candles were placed against a pole near the spot where 41-year-old Erick Veilleux was hit, Wednesday night.
Before loved ones came together at the crash site, the victim’s wife, Mercedez Williamson, said lending a helping hand was just part of who her husband was.
“He always bent over backwards to make sure everybody’s good,” she said.
Family members said helping people was something that Veilleux did on a daily basis by going to work as a crane operator at a recycling plant.
“Erick just came in, swooped in, and he was just there to support my daughter 100%,” said Loretta Thompkins, the victim’s mother-in-law. “He’s actually like an angel.”
According to Lauderhill Police, Veilleux stopped his black four-door sedan to help a driver who had run out of gas.
Investigators said the victim went to retrieve gasoline with a gas can, and as he crossed the road from the gas station, he was struck by a white Honda sedan along the southbound lanes.
The impact was so strong, police said, the pedestrian was sent across the median and was thrown onto his own vehicle.
Lauderhill Police and Fire Rescue units responded to the scene just after 11 p.m.
Paramedics transported Veilleux to Broward Health Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Raymond Williamson, his father-in-law, said it was completely in character for Veilleux to go the extra mile.
“Anybody he would see in dire need, he would pull up and help. He just had a good heart,” said Raymond Williamson, his father-in-law. “He was a good guy. He helped everyone around, an excellent son-in-law.”
“I know, and even though I’m hurt and sad, and I wish this day was not real, but I know he did it as a hero,” said Veilleux’s wife.
Hyacinth and Mike Gooden lived next door to Veilleux until just a few weeks ago, when he and his family moved a few miles away.
“Yeah, he was very nice and helpful,” said Hyacinth.
“I talked to him very regularly, very regularly. He’s a nice guy,” said Mike. “If we were doing something here, he would come over here and help, or we’d go over there and help him.”
Veilleux, who leaves behind a wife and two children, had planned a housewarming party this weekend, but the joy of that milestone has been replaced by grief.
“I’m taking it very hard. It’s hard,” said Williamson. “I’m expecting him to come up and walk in like he always does. ‘Hey, how are you doing, old man?’ I’ll be waiting on that this evening.”
Police said speed may have played a role in the crash.
“As for people, they need to be more careful. They need to drive better,” said Cynthia Ovletera, Veilleux’s sister. “I know that heaven gained an angel.”
Although his last act was to help a stranger, his family said, he was their provider and protector every day.
“He will always be a hero forever, and I love him so much,” said his wife. “I feel like I’m dreaming. I wish I could just wake up.”
Police said the driver of the Honda stopped and is cooperating with the ongoing investigation.
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