Nineteen-year-old Mike Griffith suddenly stepped into a new role.
"I've been doing as best as I can to, you know, be the rock for the family, stay strong, take care of the bills and that kind of stuff."
He's the eldest of three boys who are now left without a father.
"There’s me and my two little brothers. They’re 13 and 16."
Their dad, 55-year-old Fred Griffith, was killed Thursday night while towing a car off the 52 freeway. The California Highway Patrol says he was on the shoulder when he was hit by 48-year-old Michael Gray. Gray kept going, but was quickly stopped by an off duty deputy who witnessed the accident. Prosecutors say the deputy found a half-empty bottle of vodka in his car. Gray was three prior DUIs and a felony conviction for sexual assault on a child.
He pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to several charges including manslaughter and hit and run. If convicted, he could face up to 30 years in prison. Griffith described the first time he saw the man accused of killing his dad.
"As soon as I walked in the room I just felt his presence and I got chills. It just wasn’t a good experience to hear the chains of his handcuffs rattling and it just made me break out into a cold sweat you know? Like there was evil in the room."
With their father gone, Griffith and his two brothers were at risk of losing their home. But, thanks to their GoFundMe Page, they got some extra help.
"I do believe we are going to be housed and that’s not going to be an issue anymore," said Griffith.
The teenager is now the head of the household.
"My biggest fear is that I won’t be able to take care of them. I want to step up and be that father figure for them because I feel that’s what my dad would want. And I feel that’s what I owe him."
He's now on his own to look after his family.
"I believe my brothers will go far. My middle brother, David, he’s a fantastic student. He’s absolutely college material, he has a very high GPA. I believe that with the funds that are coming in we will finally be able to send him to college."
Living up to the legacy his father left behind.
"He really wouldn’t have wanted anyone to cry for him in the even to his death. So I’ve been trying to stay strong and I really feel like he’s still with us. With his hand on my shoulder."
Gray is due back in court on March 9. If you would like to make a donation to assist the family, click here.