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Teenage Crash Victim Is Eulogized

The San Clemente girl, who died with her boyfriend last week on their way to a dance, is remembered as a popular student.

June 02, 2005|Andrew Wang | Times Staff Writer

With tears and muted laughter, mourners paid tribute Wednesday to a San Clemente teenager who died last week as she and five friends drove to a high school spring formal.

Gillian Sabet -- "Jill" to her friends -- was remembered as an outgoing girl who was popular with classmates at JSerra High School, a Roman Catholic school in San Juan Capistrano.

"She was filled with light," Father Vincent Gilmore, Gillian's religion teacher, told more than 1,000 people crowded into the basilica at Mission San Juan Capistrano. "It came out of her beautiful eyes and her luminous smile."

Gillian, 17, and her boyfriend, 16-year-old Jonathan M. Schulte of Orange, died May 26 when the driver of an SUV in which they were riding lost control of the vehicle on the San Joaquin Hills tollway in Irvine, causing the car to flip and roll several times.

Each of the four teenagers injured in the crash was hospitalized and released. The six were en route to Newport Harbor to attend JSerra's end-of-school dance aboard a yacht. Jonathan's funeral is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday at St. Norbert Catholic Church in Orange.

Pallbearers, one of whom wore a U.S. Navy sailor's dress uniform, guided a white casket covered with pink roses to the front of the sanctuary, past teachers, parents and classmates distinctively dressed in black sweaters and vests bearing the school crest.

Several friends and teachers offered their memories of Gillian, who just days before her death was elected the first president of JSerra's 300-strong student body and would have been in the school's first graduating class next year.

Esther Borges, who taught Gillian Spanish in elementary school and offered eulogies in Spanish and English, said Gillian was a quick learner of the language, speaking it almost as fluently as English.

"Te quiero mucho" -- I love you a lot -- Borges said. "I'll be your teacher forever."

David Sabet, Gillian's father, and her younger brother Jason brought tearful laughter to the crowd as they read "The Top 10 Great Things About Jill," among them that they never had to worry about awkward silences when talking with her.

Topping the list, David Sabet said: "When Jill said, 'I love you,' she meant it."

After the funeral, mourners embraced and cried.

Jason Holm, 20, his eyes red and swollen, stood with his younger sister Mallori. They grew up two houses from the Sabet family and had known Gillian for years.

"This should have happened to someone else," Jason Holm tearfully said outside the church.

"She was always singing and dancing," Borges said of Sabet as the teacher met with students and their parents after the funeral. "She was a treasure."

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