Before dawn on Tuesday morning, Hesperia High School senior Bryan Gomez set out for school on his skateboard.

At approximately 5:03 a.m., while Gomez was riding up E Avenue toward Main Street, just north of Hercules Street, a northbound 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix struck him. According to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, the driver panicked and fled the scene, but soon returned.

San Bernardino County Fire Department paramedics pronounced Gomez, 17, dead at the scene. The sheriff's department Major Accident Investigation Team is investigating the accident.

Gomez' friends have constructed memorials to him, both at the site of the collision on E Avenue and online, on his Web page on MySpace.

"This doesn't seem real!" reads one message, posted by Emily Ortiz. "I can't believe any of this ..."

"I don't want this to be real!" reads another, posted by Shelby Lauren. "Come back, please. You can't be gone!"

"This truly does feel unreal. I feel so sad. I even started some songs for the band we were going to make," reads a post by Max Powers. "I miss you, man. You were so young."

Gomez' family had moved to Texas for work, but he remained behind in Hesperia, as he wanted to complete his senior year as a Scorpion, said Mike Graham, chief of the Hesperia Unified School District school police. He was staying with friends on the east side of town, in Sultana High School territory.

Students inside one high school's boundaries have always been responsible for their own transportation, even before budget restrictions led the HUSD to cut transportation costs in the 2008-2009 school year.

"The budget cuts and bus cuts would not have affected this situation at all, because of where he lived and where he went to school," Superintendent Mark McKinney said Tuesday.

Gomez was the second high school student on a skateboard killed this year in the Victor Valley, and he was found with his iPod earbuds still in his ears, according to officials.

"Motorists and pedestrians need to be more aware of their surroundings," said Deputy Paul Bader of the Hesperia station's Major accident Investigation Team.

"About a dozen kids" in a single group, and then others "trickling through," spoke to grief counselors on Tuesday, said Hesperia High Principal Bob Schnebeck. One of Gomez' teachers also spoke to counselors as well, he said.

"Not that it makes a difference, but he was a good kid, decent grades, never had any discipline problems that we saw," Graham said. "Such a tragedy."

"I make music sometimes," Gomez describes himself on his MySpace Web page. "Well, really all I need to say is that I love walking around on moonlit nights, raves, and people who can be themselves in front of me. ... Oh, yeah, and if you hate me, don't say it when you think I'm gone. Say it to my face."

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com. Beatriz E. Valenzuela may be reached at 951-6276 or at BValenzuela@VVDailyPress.com.