Veteran of two tours in Afghanistan killed a week after starting civilian job

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) A former soldier from Bakersfield who survived two tours of duty in Afghanistan was hit and killed by a car Wednesday, one week after starting work at a civilian construction job.

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.

Family members said Chvala was the nephew of former Kern High School District Police Chief Steve Alvidrez, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver while riding his motorcycle in 2011 on Highway 99 near Delano.

Chvala's father, who has the same name, is a football coach at BHS.

Principal David Reese released a statement Thursday on the young man's death: "Jimmy Chvala epitomized the youthful exuberance of the BHS student. Always a smile, always friendly and always willing to lend a hand. He was a young man who enjoyed life and enjoyed people. We are saddened by his passing and our condolences go out to his parents, sisters, family and friends. Remember him as you share your smile and joy of life as he did."