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METROLINK COLLISION: PORTRAITS OF LOSS / PAUL LONG

Diverse lives, one tragic link

A popular teacher, a much-admired boss, an 'awesome' mother and more. . . . In coming days, The Times will continue to profile the victims of the crash.

September 14, 2008|Anna Gorman

'Had a heart for children'

Paul Long, his wife and son were on the Metrolink train headed home to Moorpark. They were returning from his mother's funeral out of state.

All three were hurt in the crash, but Long -- an English teacher at Oaks Christian School in Westlake Village -- had to be airlifted to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.

Word that the popular English teacher was in critical condition spread at the school's Friday night varsity football game. Students, parents and friends came together and prayed. A group of mothers from the school asked God for a miracle.

"We believe in the power of prayer," said Jim Lee, the high school chaplain.

On Saturday afternoon, Long, 54, was removed from life support. His wife, Karen, and son, Devin, were with him when he died shortly before 1 p.m.

His friends and colleagues recalled Long as a fun-loving father and devoted teacher who lived for his family, his church and his school.

"He had a heart for children," said Sylvia Amatangelo, a biblical counselor at Life Spring Community Church, where Long was a part-time pastor.

"He was a goof. . . . The kids loved him."

Kathleen Rainey, a member of a mothers' prayer group at Oaks Christian in Westlake Village, said he had been "especially encouraging to my daughter, as he was to many students."

Headmaster Jeff Woodcock said he planned to have counselors at school next week for the students and faculty. Though Long was beginning only his second year at the campus, Woodcock said, he had already had a tremendous effect.

"It is going to be a great loss for the school," Woodcock said.

-- Anna Gorman

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