James Chvala Jr., 25, graduated from Bakersfield High School in 2006, his family told Eyewitness News. He had only been working at his current job for a week when the accident happened.
Chvala was digging a cable line along Avenue 9 in Madera County when he walked across the road to retrieve a shovel, according to the California Highway Patrol. A car struck him.
The driver, a 38-year-old woman from Clovis, told the CHP that she thought Chvala was going to stop and go back to the side of the road after grabbing the shovel, but he instead walked back across the road and into the path of her car.
Chvala's father, who has the same name, is a football coach at BHS.
"He believed that people like him and the bigger people in the world were placed here to protect the weaker and those that needed help," his grieving father said Thursday about his son's spirt of service.