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Philly teen skateboarder dies after hit-and-run collision with dirt bike: ‘He was loved by so many people’

Philadelphia police have asked for the public’s help in finding the dirt bike rider, who they said fled the scene after the collision.

Jesus Gomez Rosario
Jesus Gomez RosarioRead moreYahira Colon

A Philadelphia teen who loved playing guitar and dreamed of becoming a pilot has died from injuries he suffered when a dirt-bike rider hit him while he was skateboarding in North Philadelphia on Sunday.

The driver of the dirt bike — who police said was riding east on Allegheny Avenue near Front Street in the center of the road, popping wheelies and traveling “at a high rate of speed” — collided with 17-year-old Jesus Gomez Rosario, who was moving west on Allegheny on his skateboard.

Rosario was severely injured and taken to Temple University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead Tuesday morning, police said. The still-unidentified dirt-bike rider appeared to have suffered minor injuries and fled after hitting Rosario with “pretty significant impact,” Capt. Mark Overwise said Wednesday.

Rosario was a junior at Esperanza Academy Charter School, cared deeply for his large family, and “was passionate about so many things,” said his sister, Maria Luciano.

He loved skateboarding with friends, playing and performing with his guitar, and spinning tracks under the name “DJ Chu” with his father on the local Spanish radio station, La Unika 1680 AM. Luciano, 26, said her brother had dreams of attending flight school after high school graduation in hopes of one day becoming a pilot.

“He was loved by so many people. … My brother, he was a bright young man,” Luciano said. “And for someone to just leave him lifeless on the street is just cruel and unfair. ... The person who did this just needs to come forward and needs to pay for what they did.”

Philadelphia police have asked for the public’s help in finding the dirt-bike operator, who they said appeared to be riding alone. They described him as a young man wearing a black helmet, a red bandanna or scarf around his neck, a white T-shirt, black pants, and white sneakers.

At the time of the collision, police said, the dirt-bike operator was riding a bike with green wheels and a green body with some damage on its left side. Surveillance video shows two passengers in a vehicle on Allegheny Avenue stopping to help the dirt-bike rider move his bike away from the road. Overwise said the department is interested in talking to the people who were in the vehicle, and anyone with information is asked to contact the Accident Investigation Division at 215-685-3184.

Last year, Philadelphia City Council cracked down on people riding dirt bikes on city streets — part of a Philadelphia “bike life” culture that some have deemed a dangerous nuisance — ramping up penalties for the illegal street vehicles to a $2,000 fine and confiscation.

» READ MORE: ATVs and dirt bikes take to the streets of Philly as the city tries to step up enforcement

“This is a dangerous activity,” Overwise said. “What’s fun for one person is dangerous to someone else, and this is a very good example of what can happen.”

The family has planned a candlelit vigil for Rosario at the site of the collision for Thursday at 6 p.m., with a viewing and funeral next week.