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Hundreds Pay Last Respects to Teen

Posted: February 23, 2008 2:26 a.m.
Updated: April 25, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Mourners line up Friday to pay last respects to teen Taylor LaKamp, who died Sunday in a motorcycle collision near Bakersfield.

Hundreds of family, friends and classmates gathered Friday morning at a memorial for Taylor LaKamp, the 15-year-old Castaic boy who died Sunday when his motorcycle collided with another motorcycle near Bakersfield.

The chapel at Eternal Valley Memorial Park was overflowing with weeping mourners, who spilled out into the lobby and even the damp, rainy sidewalk to pay their respects.

During the Roman Catholic service, Father Sam Ward of Our Lady of Perpetual Help church in Newhall said that the rain was a metaphor for the feelings of the crowd.

"The weather expresses how we are all feeling," he said. "The rain is tears from heaven, but the light of Christ will light up the world."

Ward expressed gratitude that so many of LaKamp's fellow West Ranch High School students came to show their love and support.

"For Taylor's classmates, I know these moments are absolutely wrenching," he said. "But I want to thank you for your overwhelming presence. I urge you to support each other."

LaKamp's family was comforted by the hundreds of calls and letters they had received from their son's fellow students, he said.

Ward also urged people to not condemn the other boy who was involved in the collision, even though they may be tempted to do so.

"It was a tragic accident," he said. "The family of the other boy are no doubt going through an immense amount of guilt now, wondering 'why Taylor and not my son?'"LaKamp was off-roading in California City when he collided in mid-air with another motorcycle that was coming in the opposite direction.

He suffered from massive lung compression and heart damage after the front tire and wheel of the other vehicle hit him in the chest. He was taken to a hospital but died later of his injuries.

The other boy, also a teenager, suffered minor injuries.

LaKamp's grandfather, James Degnan of Castaic, said at the service that his grandson would be remembered as a happy, friendly kid who was well-liked by everyone.

"'He made me smile' was the most common comment I heard from his friends," Degnan said. "His brother said he was the goofiest guy he ever met."


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