Four-year-old Gregorio Edward Leyva decided for himself when it was time to go to bed.
If he wanted to play videogames until 3 a.m., he did. Many nights he just slept on the floor, or in any clear space he found in the small, cluttered two-bedroom house he shared with his mother and seven of his 11 siblings.
He ate a lot of fast food and rode his bike even when he’d been told not to. Most days were spent playing games, dancing and singing along to rap music.
For the most part, Gregorio did whatever he wanted. But he listened to his mother when it came to crossing the street near their home.
His mother always had the children walk with her about 20 feet outside of the crosswalk at 30th and Q streets so they could get home more quickly. They crossed there again Wednesday evening.
Gregorio was walking ahead of his mother north across 30th Street at 5:09 p.m. when a 1998 Ford Expedition turned right onto Q Street and struck him. He was pronounced dead 30 minutes later at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital. It was the first local pedestrian traffic death of 2014.
Police have said neither drugs, alcohol nor speed appear to be factors in the collision.
Jesse Zamora, at 21 the oldest of Gregorio’s siblings, said his mother didn’t always stick next to Gregorio when they crossed intersections.
“She’d hold his hand, but if there were no cars coming she’d tell him to run straight across,” Zamora said.
The mother, 40-year-old Anna Maria Palomino, said she crosses outside the crosswalk because she has lupus and tires quickly when walking. She takes whatever shortcuts she can.
Palomino could not talk about Gregorio without crying. He loved the animated film “The Land Before Time,” she said.
“He used to play that video all day.”
Palomino and two of her daughters collect disability benefits. Zamora pitches in with money earned from his job at a local “dollar store.” But money is tight with so many children.
The family lives in a small house in an alley off Q Street just north of 30th Street. Two older sisters live with their grandmother, and a son lives with relatives in Utah.
Palomino’s youngest child was born in December.
Several dogs of different breeds, including a few pit bulls, were barking from behind a fence in the dirt front yard Thursday.
Inside, clothes were strewn throughout the living room. In one corner an unmade bed was covered with dirty clothes. Eight people now live in the one-bathroom house.
Delilah Palomino, 20, said Gregorio loved to wake her up from a sound sleep and start laughing. He’d act out in ways the sister found annoying at times but also humorous.
“He always knew how to cheer you up,” she said.
Zamora said it hurts not having Gregorio around. The boy was scheduled to begin kindergarten in September.
Zamora was surprised by the accident, and said locals know that’s where his mom crosses the street.
“Cars usually stop,” he said.
A car wash to help offset funeral expenses will be held near the 30th and Q street intersection from 9 a.m. to noon Friday.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Officer Jarod Diederich at 327-7111.