Close-knit: The Franco family, including (from left) Miguel's father, Angelo; his mother, Maria; his sister, Candida; Miguel; his sister's husband; and (far right) Miguel's brother, Paul
Close-knit: The Franco family, including (from left) Miguel's father, Angelo; his mother, Maria; his sister, Candida; Miguel; his sister's husband; and (far right) Miguel's brother, Paul
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Teenage road victim Miguel Franco arrived late and left early from his family's lives.


But in 17 brief years he bought "so much light and joy" his family said yesterday. Miguel's brother, Paul, and his sister, Candida, were both teenagers by the time Miguel was born.


Yesterday, Candida, 29, described Miguel as the family's "happy little accident from heaven." She said: "My mother was almost 40 years old [when Miguel was born]. He came late and God took him early. But he definitely came for a reason. He bought so much light and joy. He was my little brother, but he was also like a son to me.


"He was the baby of the family - he was so cheeky, always so full of fun.


"He was always making us all laugh. He would come up behind my dad and flick him on the head and scamper out of the way.


"You would tell him off for something, but then he'd grin and no-one could ever stay mad at him. He is our guardian angel now, he's going to look over us. He left behind so much love and so much laughter."


Miguel was riding pillion on a motorbike that hit a truck and a car on Middle Road in Warwick.


Following his accident at midday on Friday, Miguel lay unconscious before dying of his injuries on Sunday. Tributes, photos and condolences have since flooded his Facebook page.


Candida said: "We knew he was very popular, but even we didn't realize just how much he was loved until we saw his Facebook page. Even people who met him for only one hour were touched by him."


The close knit Franco family, who moved to Bermuda from the Azores 30 years ago, live in a large house on Astwood Road, Paget. Miguel lived with his parents, Angelo, 57, and Maria, 56, in the lower part of the house; Paul Miguel, his wife and their one-year-old daughter live in the upper section.






'He was football mad'


Candida, who has a three-year-old daughter, continued: "He loved everybody and would talk so easily to anyone, young and old. He loved his two nieces.


"He said he would always look after them. He can't now do that now in person, but I know he's going to watch over them in spirit."


Paul Franco, 32, said of his younger brother: "He was football mad. But what he liked best was just to hang out with his friends. He was the sort of person that everybody loved - he didn't have an enemy in the world."


Paul, a contractor, said that Warwick Academy student Miguel was bright enough "to be anything he wanted." However, he said the teenager's real talent was mechanical. Paul said: "He could fix anything. He could look at a bike and say, 'that looks like it goes there, and that looks like it should do that' and he would get it working. I have 40 people working for me, and Miguel was half my age, but I looked up to him every bit as much as he looked up to me."


Ahead of Miguel's funeral tomorrow (Thursday), his parents are still too distraught to talk. However, Paul said he was speaking for the whole family when he said he does not blame Miguel's teenage friend who was driving the bike at the time of the fatal crash.


The friend -- whom the Bermuda Sun has chosen not to name - was unhurt in the collision, but is said to be in deep shock. Paul Miguel said: "He [the bike rider] blames himself - he is tormented. We saw him at the hospital and he couldn't speak, he was breaking down.


"We've told him, we hold no grudge against him. We have tried to help him - to tell him not to blame himself. It was an accident and it was Miguel's time to go. It was better that only Miguel was killed than both of them. We just hope he gets through it."