In the tight-knit neighborhood on Nardian Way in Westchester, Jason Schultz was someone who made sure to greet his neighbors.
Whether he was strolling through the neighborhood to the bus stop or taking his dog out for a walk, Schultz wanted to talk to people, neighbors recall.
“Jason was a part of everything,” family friend Cynthia Welch Berlinsky said. “He was always very social and was always talking to neighbors. He was a bright light.”
Schultz, who lived in Westchester with his parents, Bill and Carol since 1990, was killed early Thursday, April 23rd, when he was struck by a vehicle while waiting at a bus stop near his home at 83rd Street and Lincoln Boulevard. The driver of a 2009 Nissan Ultima was traveling southbound on Lincoln shortly before 6 a.m., when the car ran off the road, collided with a bus bench where Schultz was sitting and crashed into a wall, Los Angeles Police Department spokesman Richard French said.
Schultz, 36, was pronounced dead at the scene. No other injuries were reported.
The driver of the vehicle is believed to have suffered a medical condition that interfered with his ability to safely operate the vehicle, French said. The driver sustained severe injuries in the crash and was taken to a local hospital for treatment, he said. Preliminary investigation revealed that alcohol or drugs were not a factor in the crash and the driver was not arrested, police said.
Schultz’s father Bill said his son rode the bus to and from UCLA every week day for 13 years for his job in the maintenance department. Both Carol and Bill Schultz noted how their son, who had a diminished mental capacity, had a “tremendous work ethic” and never wanted to miss a day of work.
“The rainy days were his down time because he couldn’t work,” Bill Schultz recalled. “He was a very unselfish person who was very happy.”
Having taken the bus to work for a number of years, Jason became friends with people all along the bus route, his mother said. Linda Gamberg, spokeswoman for Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus, said a bus, which was not involved in the accident, arrived at the scene shortly after the crash and assisted with the investigation. A bus employee recognized Schultz as a passenger and was sent home to grieve, she said.
“We’re all terribly sorry for the tragic accident and extend our condolences to the victim’s family,” Gamberg said.
Schultz had a positive effect on people in his life, especially his 13-year-old brother Jaime and sister Sarah, who “adored” him, his parents said.
“He always had a cheerful attitude and lived everyday to the fullest,” Carol Schultz said. “He had no bad judgement to put on anybody; he was just a sweet, sweet man.”
Among his favorite activities were being with family, watching movies and traveling.
Welch Berlinsky said many of the Schultz neighbors have been visiting with the family to offer their support and help plan the memorial service. She remembered Jason as being very warm and funny, and called the loss “heartbreaking.”
Neighbors plan to plant an olive tree in the Schultz’s backyard in memory of Jason.
Many extended family members from around the country have come to attend the memorial services, the Schultzes said. A funeral service was held at St. Anastasia Church in Westchester Wednesday, April 29th, and many friends and family were expected to pay their respects to Jason.
“He touched so many lives,” Carol Schultz said. “There’s a great outpouring of love for him.”