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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP / East County | Moorpark

Student Who Died in Fall Remembered

October 04, 2000|TRACI ISAACS

Before an eight-story fall from a Honolulu apartment terrace ended his life, it seemed like Moorpark resident John Sherwood had everything to live for.

"He was a delightful young man, energetic, loving and family-orientated," said Andi Mallen, Sherwood's counselor at Moorpark High School. "He was a firecracker."

Five days after the 19-year-old fell to his death from a ledge at the Ala Moana Tower apartments after a railing collapsed, those who knew Sherwood in Moorpark remembered his outgoing spirit while trying to come to terms with his death.

"It's shocking that something like this would happen," said Moorpark City Councilman Chris Evans, who employed Sherwood at his bridal business for more than two years. "You shake your head and wonder."

Sherwood, a communications major who graduated from Moorpark High and attended Moorpark College, had recently started classes at Hawaii Pacific University.

Investigators are still looking into the cause of the accident, which occurred just before midnight Friday. Sherwood and a friend, 18-year-old Suzanne Johnson of Rolling Hills, were attending a party on the 11th floor of the building. They were leaning against a railing when it gave way, officials said.

They fell eight floors before landing on a third-story parking garage. Johnson survived the fall, but Sherwood died after they were both rushed to a local hospital.

A medical examiner in Honolulu said Sherwood died of massive head injuries.

About 145 students live in the tower, which is about one-third of the building's tenants, said Rick Stepien, vice president of administration at the university.

Renovations at the complex have been going on for eight months, and the tower's management company issued a memo warning tenants about the work, he said. An advisory also went out via the university.

A rosary for Sherwood is planned for 8 p.m. Friday at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, 1305 Royal Ave., Simi Valley. Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Rose, followed by burial at Assumption Cemetery.

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