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A second chance cut short

Friends and relatives said Jaime Arias, 18, had just turned his life around before he died Monday

Posted: February 25, 2010 10:04 p.m.
Updated: February 26, 2010 11:00 a.m.

Robert Prout, 19, described Arias as "one of my good friends," during the candlelight vigil for the Saugus teen.

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Jaime Arias, 18, was just getting his life together when a car accident Monday night cut it short.

Now the spirited young man lives on as inspiration to his peers.

“I don’t know why my son was taken, but I think he was put on this earth as an example,” Jaime’s father Jorge Arias said. “If you’re down on your luck, if you put your heart into something and try, you can succeed.”

Arias, who was just months away from graduating from Bowman High School, died Monday night in a single car crash on a remote section of Sand Canyon Road south of Placerita Canyon. The 17-year-old female driver, who has not been identified, lost control of the 2003 Mitsubishi and spun off the road, plunging 160 feet into a ravine, a California Highway Patrol release stated.

Neither drugs nor alcohol appeared to be a factor, officials said.

The girl was hospitalized. Arias died at the scene.

On Wednesday night, a fine mist hung in the cool night air during a candlelight vigil held at the Arias home. About 45 people huddled in silence around a framed 8-by-10 photo of his smiling face.

Few words were spoken. The only sound was the occasional sniffle from friends and family members. People embraced and wiped their eyes.

“He was like my little baby brother,” said Javier Trejo, 26, Arias’ cousin. “He had charisma.”

Friends and family described Arias as the life of the party.

“He loved to talk,” Arias said. “He was always texting, talking on the phone. He cheered everybody up.”

“He was my little brother,” said close friend Jaime Chavez. “He was really outgoing. There was no negative attitude toward him.”

Jaime Arias’ girlfriend, Yesenia Aguilar, said the last text message she received from him was Arias reassuring her.

“He said, ‘Tomorrow’s a new day and a new beginning,’” she said. “More than anything, he was my best friend.”

Arias said his son lost his way last year. He stayed out late, fell behind in school and experimented with drugs.

But shortly after his grandmother died in October, Arias turned himself around.

He enrolled in Bowman High School, a continuation school, and was on track to graduate this spring.

He planned to go to a culinary school or study to be an X-ray technician, Jorge Arias said.

Friends and family said Jaime talked openly about the struggle he went through to help others who might be going through similar trials.

Jaime’s mother, Ana Martinez, said Jaime served as a mentor.

“He was just trying to help other people,” Martinez said. “Just talking to them, just telling them what he felt he had been through and letting them know they weren’t by themselves, that you can get through whatever bad situation you’ve been in.”

Bowman Principal Robin Geissler echoed the sentiment.

“He was just pure gold,” Geissler said. “He was one of those kids that inspired others to do the right things in life. He had had some hardships in life and really served as a role model for a lot of the young men.”

Geissler said that was Jaime’s ultimate message: Life is precious. Don’t waste a moment.

Jaime Arias is survived by his father Jorge Arias, of Saugus; his mother Ana Martinez; and half-sister Trinity Martinez, both of Northridge.

The family has not announced details on memorial services.


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