SNYDER, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Independence Day in the Big Country is typically filled with laughs, food and fireworks. The day started the same way for one Big Country family, but ended with a tragedy nobody could ever foresee.

The loss of Snyder 9-year-old Julius Rendon, “CJ,” hit the entire community hard. The soon-to-be third grader started out his holiday participating in his traveling football team’s 4th of July parade.

“I seen him sitting there next to my son. He was having a great day. He looked like he was ready to pop fireworks, have a great July the 4th,” CJ’s football coach of 4 years Aaron Lane, recounted.

CJ’s family told KTAB/KRBC he was getting ready to visit with his father following the parade. This is the last time his older sister, 13-year-old Alyssa Padilla got to talk with him.

“We were getting ready to go swimming and I asked if he wanted to come,” Alyssa said through tears. “He said no, so I told both of them that I loved them and that’s like the last thing that I told them… And then I never saw him again.”

The SUV driven by CJ’s father reportedly veered over the middle lane of FM 608, just about two miles south of Roscoe at 10:00 p.m. Monday, striking an oncoming pickup truck.

His father was taken to Hendrick Medical Center in Abilene with serious injuries. The occupants of the truck received no major injuries. CJ was the accident’s sole fatality, being pronounced dead at Rolling Planes Hospital in Sweetwater.

“You’ve gotta just hold on to- just hold on to your family and hug them every chance you get. Because you just never know,” encouraged CJ’s Step-Grandmother Charman Gonzalez.

CJ was known throughout the community, largely because of his deep dedication to his favorite sport, and his teammates.

CJ and Coach Lane

“He was really into football,” Alyssa said. “He really wanted to be something.”

This dream was shared and spurred on by Coach Lane, CJ’s favorite coach- according to his mother.

“I mean, the world didn’t deserve him. He was such an incredible kid,” Coach Lane said. ‘He worked his tail off every day, he came out there. I mean, just to try hard. He really wanted to be good.”

The Snyder community showed up in support of his family through trains of prayers and meals, and even a go-fund-me account. It was an overwhelming show of care for his grieving family, and especially his mother.

“Out of something so tragic, something good happened,” Gonzalez said. “But unfortunately, I don’t think there’s anything that could make her feel better.”

These are wounds that, for his family, may only be healed in time as they try to make sense of the fact that he is gone.

“I just know it’s gonna be really hard without CJ, it’s not ever really gonna be the same,” Alyssa said through tears. “Because he was like the loudest in the family… It’s just gonna be really quiet now that he’s gone.”