Angel Delgadillo, 20, could always be counted on for a smile and a bear hug, his friends are recalling this week.
The crash occurred when his Suzuki motorcycle ran into the back of a Toyota.
Delgadillo, of East Palo Alto, was pronounced dead at Stanford Hospital, CHP Officer Graciela Castillo said.
The collision occurred at 6:10 p.m. in the southbound lanes of the freeway between Marsh Road and Willow Road. Occupants of the car that Delgadillo's motorcycle crashed into also received medical treatment, Castillo said.
The collision is under investigation.
Delgadillo had also attended Walter Hays Elementary School and Jordan Middle School in Palo Alto.
A friend, Meredith Lada, now a student at San Francisco State University, started a Facebook page about his death and posted a tribute to his memory.
"For those of you who knew him, I know you will agree with me by saying that he was one of the nicest and most genuine people you have ever met," Lada wrote.
"He touched so many with his sincerity, his smile, his positive attitude and his friendship. I and countless others are deeply saddened by this loss already, and I know he will be missed immensely."
By Tuesday, the Facebook group had more than 250 members. Photographs uploaded by friends showed a happy Delgadillo with his friends in Las Vegas, Disneyland and other places.
On his Myspace.com page, Delgadillo described himself as "just another East Palo Alto Mexican that likes having fun. Doesn't matter who you are, if you are down to earth you're my kind of person to chill with and spend some time with."
He listed rap and hip-hop music among his interests and included many pictures of himself with friends and family, as well as some of his motorcycles. His last login to the site was Thursday, March 13, when he listed his mood as "calm."
Both sites have been flooded with comments from Delgadillo's devastated friends. Some even changed their Myspace.com names in tribute to Delgadillo.
Friends remembered him as a protector.
"Way back in elementary school Angel offered me protection from anyone who might try and pick on me," Alberto Prado, now a University of California at Santa Cruz student, wrote on Facebook.
Leigh Cambra agreed: "I could see Angel offering protection to anyone but never needing to actually throw a punch. You didn't mess with Angel because he was such a nice guy; everyone loved him."
Another friend, Kristie Flatley, now at Penn State, remembered meeting Delgadillo on the first day of her freshman year at Paly. She was wearing a shirt that said "Angel" on it.
"He had a big smile on his face, and we immediately became friends," Flatley wrote.
"Every day after school he would walk me to Town & Country where my mom and little brother were parked to pick me up, (and) he would always say hello to my mom and brother with his usual smile on his face."
Flatley also knew Delgadillo through the Paly cheerleading squad, where she was a "flyer" and he was a "stunter."
"He was a genuine, sweet, outgoing guy," Flatley said. "I don't think anyone could find a negative thing to say about him."
Danielle Vernon was a year ahead of Delgadillo at Paly but got to know him when they went to the same YMCA summer camp at Catalina Island for two years.
"He was a sweetheart," Vernon, a Weekly photography intern, said. "He would greet people with big bear hugs."
A memorial gathering for Delgadillo will be held at 4-6 p.m. Friday, March 21, at Roller Hapgood & Tinney, 980 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto.
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