AUTRYVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — When asked to draw an emoji describing how he felt after the first day of second grade, Oscar Luna drew the “cool” emoji and wrote, “I was happy.”
That picture hangs in the hall at Clement Elementary.
“The sunshine on a cloudy day,” said Theresa Barber, Oscar’s teacher. “He was always happy, always smiling, always encouraging.”
The last time Theresa saw Oscar was on his eighth birthday.
It was a Friday — the last Friday Oscar was alive.
“As he was going out the door he said ‘Best day ever and now it’s my birthday I get to go home and celebrate my birthday’,” Barber said.
Barber recalls that day as one of her best yet as a teacher.
“Now I know God gave us that day,” she said.
If there’s one thing everyone knew about Oscar, he wanted to be a firefighter when he grew up.
“He loved our firefighters,” Barber said.
Clement Volunteer Fire Department Chief Ark Matthews remembers Oscar’s enthusiasm during school visits at Clement Elementary.
“When his grade would come out he’d sit right on the curb, first thing down there and he’d always say ‘I’m gonna be a fireman when I grow up’,” Matthews said.
It was a foggy morning when Oscar was headed to school on the first Monday as an eight-year-old.
He never made it to class that day.
Matthews and volunteer firefighter Kent Williams both responded to the car crash two weeks ago that ultimately killed Oscar.
“Most of us have kids at home that age so it could have easily been one of ours,” Williams said.
Williams also remembers interacting with Oscar at his school.
“He’s the real hero,” Williams said.
The first responders pulled Oscar from under the car, then revived him long enough for his family to say goodbye at the hospital, and for his organs to be donated to 10 people.
“He saved 10 lives, there are 10 families that got the miracle they’d been asking for,” Williams said.
The fire department presented Oscar’s family with a special helmet in his honor at his funeral.
“Gave him a real fireman’s helmet so his family will have something there to remember us and him by,” Matthews said.
They didn’t stop there.
The junior firefighter with the big smile was escorted in a fire truck to his final resting place Tuesday night.
“Oscar has not left us, but what he’s left us with is a blessing,” Barber said.
Clement Elementary is accepting donations for Oscar’s family.
Principal Matt McLean says donations can be dropped off at the school.
“The outpouring has been wonderful,” McLean said. “I’m happy with the way our community has supported Oscar and his family.”
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