COCONUT CREEK (CBSMiami) – A Coconut Creek family is mourning the loss of a 19-year-old man who died Saturday night. Family members said Joseph, Ianzano, 19, was trying to stop a friend from driving drunk.

A group of about 200 friends and family members turned out for a vigil for the 19-year-old Monday night at the Loxahatchee Everglades Reserve, a place Ianzano often frequented with friends.

READ MORE: At least 19 children, 2 adults killed after shooter opens fire at Texas elementary school

“Joey was one of the best, most honest kids you’d ever want to meet,” said Barbara Rodberg, Ianzano’s aunt.

Joey Ianzano loved fishing, trucks, and making people laugh, his family members said.

“He always had a smile on his face and it was the most contagious one,” added Alisha Dunn, Ianzano’s cousin.

“Everywhere he goes he’s class clown, so everyone knows him as the funny guy,” said Cassandra Persaud, Ianzano’s friend.

Ianzano was known for helping others.

“When someone was hurting, he knew how to comfort them in a quiet way,” his grandmother Barbara Ianzano said. “He was a wonderful, wonderful person.”

Click here to WATCH CBS4’s MaryAnn Martinez’s report

“He thought about everyone else before himself to a fault,” said Alisha Dunn.

That’s why people who knew Joey weren’t surprised to hear he tried to stop a friend from allegedly driving drunk.

Saturday night his family says he drove some friends back to his house after a concert, but thought one of his friends was too drunk to drive home.

“He blocked the car with his car so that he couldn’t get out because the car was parked in front of his house anyway,” said Barbara Ianzano. “He got around the car and Joey ran after him and grabbed onto the spoiler trying to stop him yelling screaming.”

Police said the driver sped off with Joey still grabbing onto the back of his car. About half-a-block away, the car slammed into a tree near the 5300 block of Flamingo Place.

READ MORE: Coral Gables resident says city's automatic license plate recognition cameras are a constitutional violation

“I heard it and I came running out and that’s when I saw him laying there,” said Persaud. “It was really bad, I was trying to flip him over and when I saw the blood, I couldn’t do it.”

Persaud could hardly believe the young man dying in her driveway was her neighbor and friend.

“He didn’t deserve that and I love him a lot because he’s helped me out growing up and it’s really sad,” said Persaud.
“The sad part is he tried to stop somebody from getting killed and he ended up dying,” Barbara Ianzano added.

Ianzano died just days before starting school to become a firefighter.

His family said it was his lifelong dream of making a career out of helping others.

“He’s our hero,” said Rodberg.

A viewing is scheduled for Tuesday from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at Coral Springs Funeral home.

The family has also set up a fund to help with unexpected funeral costs. If you’d like to help, click here.

Police say the crash is still under investigation and the person driving the car has not been charged at this time .

Ianzano’s grandmother said she isn’t sure if any good will come out of charging the driver, who was a close family friend.

“To be mean, yes,” said Barbara Ianzano. “To say that it’s going to take away what happened, because it’s not going to take away what happened. I can’t bring my grandson back.”


[display-posts category=”local” wrapper=”ul” posts_per_page=”5″]

MORE NEWS: South Florida Playing Pivotal Role In Transformation Of Psychedelics As Mainstream Medicine