JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The family of a man hit and killed while crossing Monument Road met a 17-year-old who tried to save the 80-year-old after the crash.
The bittersweet meeting took place Tuesday, one day after police said Clarence Gibbs was struck by a car on Monument Road near the Interstate 295 interchange Monday afternoon and died at a hospital.
Gibbs' loved ones said he was an Army veteran whom they called "Dennis." They said he was a reserved and kind man, and he walked nearly 2 miles every day.
"He was a gentle soul," said Alice Kemp, Gibbs' sister. "He was just a little quirky, I guess you would say."
The power of social media brought Kemp and Bishop Kenny student Garrett Curley, the teen who stopped to give Gibbs CPR, together.
Emotions were high as the high school student met Kemp for the first time. Although the circumstances of their meeting were tragic, they feel they were brought together for a reason.
Kemp wrapped her arms around Curley when they met.
"Glad I could meet someone as great as you are," she told him.
She thanked the teen for his brave efforts, stopping to try to help her brother after he was struck.
"It's just unheard of for a young person like that to do what he did, to even try," Kemp said.
Curley said he was headed home from school later than normal about 3:20 p.m. Monday when he saw Gibbs lying in the median. Without hesitation, he pulled over in his blue SUV and began giving Gibbs CPR.
“I went down and checked his pulse and I couldn’t find one," Curley said. "So I flipped him over and I started chest compressions on him, so I was doing chest compressions by myself for about four to five minutes."
When first responders arrived, Curley said he and an officer were able to bring Gibbs back to life for only a short period of time.
“They found a pulse when EMS arrived and we found out later at the scene that he didn’t make it," Curley said.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said Gibbs died at Memorial Hospital, but Curley believes he was in the area of the crash for a reason.
"I was able to give him that short amount of time, and also be there with him so he wasn't by himself," Curley said.
Kemp agrees Curley was there for a reason. She said she will miss her brother, but she’s grateful Curley stood by his side during his final moments on Earth.
"He was there to be with him and he wasn’t alone," Kemp said. "That’s what I was hoping for.”
Niki Curley, the teen's mother, said she couldn't be prouder of her son.
"You know you always think you’re proud of your children and you don’t think you could be prouder until something like this happens," she said.
Despite the tragic circumstances, Kemp and Curley feel they have a bond that will last forever.
“I think we made a second family today," said Curley, who hopes to become a doctor or a police officer someday.
Kemp hopes Gibbs' death will encourage drivers to watch out for pedestrians.
"I hope that people will learn to watch a little more closely when they see somebody on the side of the road," Kemp said. "If I see somebody on the side of the road, I slow down because I'm always afraid they're gonna stop out in front of me.”
Police said Gibbs was not using a crosswalk at the time of the crash. His sister feels there should be more crosswalks along Monument Road to prevent more tragedies from happening.