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Youth Grove memorial: Never forget

• Mourners remember youth who lost lives in traffic collisions.

Posted: April 17, 2008 3:19 a.m.
Updated: June 18, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Paul Ames, of Castaic, kneels over the tree stump that represents his brother, Evan, during the third annual Evening of Remembrance at Central Park on Wednesday. Evan died when 16 years old.

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Under a moonlit sky, more than 100 mourners gathered at Central Park on Wednesday to remember the local youth who have lost their lives in traffic collisions.

At the third annual Evening of Remembrance at the park's Youth Grove memorial, local high school students read the names of the 71 who have died. Some were as young as 6 years old.

Standing next to a row of memorial pillars with a candle in her hand, Saugus resident Charlotte McBroom said she lost her 18-year-old daughter five years ago. Her daughter, Ciji, was a passenger in a car with a drunk driver on Christmas night. The vehicle collided with another drunk driver, she said, and Ciji died on New Year's Day.

McBroom said she would advise parents to be strict with their teens about driving rules.

"Be a friend later in life. Be a parent now," she said.

The half-acre large Youth Grove has 71 pillars that mimic tree stumps, representing lives that were cut short on the road.

A monument inscribed with a "Know More" vow encourages young drivers to learn about safe driving habits and to also pledge "no more" lives will be lost.

Four names have been added to the memorial since last year.

With tears welling up in his eyes, Saugus resident Joe Furlong said he lost his 21-year-old son, Ray, 11 years ago when his son was driving drunk and crashed his vehicle.

He said his son wasn't a bad kid. "He just made a mistake one night," he said.

City Councilman Frank Ferry, who spearheaded the effort to establish the memorial, pointed to the parents who have lost their children and said, "For all the weddings, graduations, grandchildren and all the other events they've missed out on, they still live each day with that loss."

He advised young drivers to turn off their cell phones before they get in a car and warned of the dangers of not only driving drunk, but driving tired as well.

"Every teenager is going to want that ultimate pinnacle of adulthood, and that's the keys to a car and a driver's license," Ferry said. "We need to educate each new batch of (teens) turning sweet 16."

To report irresponsible teen driving, call (877) 310-7807 and provide a license plate number. City officials also encourage teens to call Safe Rides at (661) 259-6330 to avoid driving drunk.

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