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VALLEY ROUNDUP | Santa Clarita

Ceremony Honors 4 Crash Victims

March 19, 2000|HILARY E. MacGREGOR

More than anything, it was boys they remembered.

Boys, poised on the cusp of adulthood, whose passions were hockey, soccer, swimming and speed.

Students, parents and friends of everyone involved in a high-speed collision last month in Santa Clarita gathered Saturday morning at Canyon High School to plant a tree in memory of the four people who died and to ponder the lives of the two who survived.

"Take comfort in seeing how much your loved ones meant to so many," Principal Vicki Engbrecht said to the families before a crowd of about 150 people holding white long-stemmed roses.

Marcus Christian Lellan, 18, the driver, and four classmates were speeding home from Valencia Town Center mall Feb. 17 when their white Acura swerved, crashed through the median and hit three trees, which acted as a ramp and caused the car to become airborne.

The Acura flipped in midair and landed roof to roof on an oncoming Mustang, deputies said at the time.

Three of Lellan's passengers--Dominic Whit Ianozzi, 16, and brothers Timothy Lee Renolds, 17, and Daniel Richard Renolds, 15--died instantly. Another passenger, Daniel Weber, 16, who was riding in the front seat, suffered negligible injuries.

The Mustang's driver, Rodney David Adams, 45, of Santa Clarita, also was killed.

Lellan, who suffered minor injuries, pleaded not guilty to four counts of vehicular manslaughter last month. He could face up to 10 years in prison.

On Saturday, there was no anger--only sadness--expressed as several students shared memories.

"Tim left an imprint on everyone he met," said fellow swim team member Steve Mivalez. "He loved life in general. And he loved to swim."

As Mivalez talked of the boy whose biggest complaint about swim practice was the tiny Speedo he had to wear, his mother--who lost two sons--pressed a tissue to her nose and sobbed.

When the brief comments ended, students hugged each other. Some cried. Hundreds of balloons bearing messages were released, and a birch tree was planted.

"It's been so hard," said 17-year-old Erin Potter, the senior-class secretary. "You never think this is going to happen at your school."

Fellow swimmers Raffaele Perrotta, 17, and Alan Sanden, 19, said Saturday's ceremony helped bring closure. Sanden said he hadn't planned to swim this year, but when Tim died, he knew he had to.

Others mourned in front of makeshift shrines. On one side of the grassy courtyard was a table with pictures of "Rocky" David Adams, 45, the jolly, teddy-bearish Granada Hills postal carrier who died when his car was hit by the teens' car. A cigar box held a Bible.

A triptych of poster board and photographs showed Timothy and Daniel Renolds. And for the dead boys' parents, two bound notebooks contained student letters full of good wishes, funny stories and quirky high school memories that could make you laugh through your tears.

Under a tree were two quilts made by school staff members. In the center of each square of calico was a picture of Tim and Dan Renolds--on a jet ski, pinning a corsage on a date for a school dance, playing soccer, swimming the butterfly stroke. And finally, a picture of a lonely cross, by a highway, heaped with flowers and candles and a lifeguard T-shirt--where the airborne Acura had come to rest.

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