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Family, Friends Celebrate Life of Man Killed at Disneyland

Graphic artist remembered for his positive attitude

September 13, 2003|David Reyes | Times Staff Writer

Passing a collage depicting the life of 22-year-old Marcelo Torres, who died in an accident on a Disneyland ride last week, family and friends arriving for his funeral Friday remembered how he looked at life's positive side as he prepared to begin a career in graphic design.

With his college degree in hand, he had just started a home-based design business. One of his friends said he was "all about style. He loved design."

"Such a young life and with so much ahead of him," said Ben Sanie, an uncle.

Torres was born in Hawthorne and reared in Palmdale by parents born in Chile. Five years ago the family moved back to Chile, where he finished high school, and then returned to the United States at Marcelo's urging after just two years.

The collage of family photos showed Torres at all stages of his short life: as a boy with his hands wrapped around a favorite electric guitar; standing on the front seat of a car about age 2 with his hands firmly on the steering wheel; hugging his mother, Carmen, as both smiled at the camera.

In addition to the photographs, relatives and others among 100 mourners at Nativity Catholic Church in Torrance also put mementos on a table covered with white linen in a foyer, including his favorite cap and Hawaiian-styled shirt in electric green and black.

The Sept. 5 crash injured 10 others and is one of the worst accidents in the Anaheim amusement park's history. The California Department of Occupational Safety and Health is continuing an investigation into what caused the ride's decorative locomotive to become uncoupled from the front passenger car, where Torres was sitting. The investigation could continue for months.

Torres died of blunt force trauma when an object struck him in the chest and he bled to death, according to Orange County coroner's officials.

Osvaldo Torres, another uncle, said the family is anxiously awaiting results of an investigation, at least to know how the crash occurred and why it took his nephew's life.

"The why -- it's hard to understand why. We are all coping with that," he said.

After the service, Osvaldo Torres and another uncle thanked members of the Southern California Chilean community for showing its support to the family.

The family received letters of condolences, phone calls and other expressions of support from fellow Chileans, he said.

"We're saddened by this tragedy, but also relieved by the tremendous support Chileans have given our family," Torres said.

One of the latest gestures came from the farming town of Quillota, near Santiago, where Marcelo Torres' parents were from, the uncle said.

The town will dedicate in the young man's name a classroom at the school attended by Torres and his father.

Relatives declined to talk about the Disney Co. or its role regarding the tragedy on advice from the family's lawyer, Christopher Aitken of Santa Ana, who attended the services.

There has been no communication with the family from the company, Aitken said.

Asked for a comment, Disney spokesman Bob Tucker offered words of sympathy.

"On this very difficult day, our thoughts and prayers are with the Torres family," he said.

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