A make-shift memorial of flowers and candles has been set up along the side of the road near 27th Avenue and Carefree Highway, where
Jacob "Jake" G. Rice, of New River, was found dead early Saturday morning.
Authorities believe Rice was hit by a car between the hours of 2 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. Saturday and then left for dead. His body was discovered by a jogger around 8:30 a.m.
Many people attending the memorial were crying, talking with others who came out to pay their respects, as well as confiding in others.
Police believe Rice's girlfriend,
Brittney Nolan , 20, was behind the wheel at the time of the accident. She was arrested Saturday and booked into jail for leaving the scene of a fatal accident.
Friends, who did not want to be identified, described Rice as a modern-day cowboy. They said the Boulder Creek High School graduate enjoyed working with horses, building fences and other odd jobs to earn money.
Friends also said they were a close group that enjoyed partying together and liked to "have a good time."
According to authorities, Nolan and Rice were driving back from a desert party when they got into an argument. Rice at some point got out of the car and walked away, according to Phoenix police Sgt. Trent Crump.
While Nolan was searching for Rice, she reportedly told police she looked down at her phone and drove off the road, Crump said. She told police that she thought she hit a pole.
Friends said it was not unusual for the couple to argue, but insisted that Nolan would not intentionally hurt her boyfriend.
"It's just not right," said one person, of the accusations against Nolan. "Nobody knows the truth."
Many are still in shock that their friend Jake is gone.
"It's not fair. He was too young it was really upsetting," said friend Nicole Crispo.
Despite the circumstances, this sudden loss of a loved one has brought Jake's friends closer as they work together to make sure his memory lives on.