Monday Nov 30 2009
Family, friends remember loved ones who died in accident
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
Cause of crash still under investigation
Larry Moneypenny can tell you about the time a truck skidded around a sharp corner near his home and hit a tree so hard it sent the driver’s tools flying into an empty field nearby. Moneypenny, an 18-year-resident of Salmon Falls Road in Pilot Hill, can also tell you about the crash that happened early Sunday morning and took the lives of two young men and one teenage girl. On Monday, family members and friends were reeling from the shock and grief over the loss of three passengers who died after the car they were traveling in lost control on a sharp curve and slammed into an oak tree lining the side of the road. Passengers Nan Hee Pak, 16, of Rocklin and 20-year-old Alexander Weast, 20, of Citrus Heights, were pronounced dead at the scene. A third passenger, Elijah “E.J.” Shaw, 18, of Folsom, was life-flighted to Sutter Roseville Medical Center where he later died. The driver, 20-year-old Mark Barrera Jr., of Rocklin survived the crash. He was treated and released from Sutter Roseville for minor injuries. California Highway Patrol spokesman Dan Stark said officers believe speed was a factor in the accident. He said they do not believe alcohol was involved. Barrera has not been cited or charged pending an investigation. ‘My best friend' On Monday, Eva Shaw spoke through tears about her only child and her best friend. She said she couldn’t find the words to express her feelings about how she felt when 200 students showed up at her home Sunday night to hold a candlelight vigil after news of her son, E.J. Shaw’s death, had spread. “The responses I’ve had so far are overwhelming,” Eva Shaw said. “He had so many friends and he touched so many lives I don’t even know a quarter of the kids.” Folsom High School Principal Kathryn Allaman said many students attended the vigil. On Monday, counselors were available on campus and a memorial poster was set up for students to write their remembrances. Allaman said E.J. Shaw stood out among staff for his sense of humor. “E.J. was full of life and he was one of those students who was kind of the class clown and had a great sense of humor,” Allaman said. “We certainly feel a great loss here in our Folsom High School family.” Soon after E.J. Shaw’s death, a close friend set up a memorial Web page on facebook.com. Friends have since been posting messages to E.J. Shaw and uploading photos of the fun-loving teen. Eva Shaw said her son had a promising future. A member of the Capital Crew Rowing Team, E.J. Shaw was in the gym often to maintain an athletic physique. The Folsom High School senior had plans to attend a California college where he was thinking of majoring in business and then later on pursue a law degree. Eva Shaw said she expects to receive acceptance letters in the mail next year. “He had everything going for him,” Eva Shaw said. Shaw said she will remember a well-balanced, selfless son who chose to spend much of his free time with her. “I’m so at a loss,” Eva Shaw said. “My only child – my best friend – he’s gone.” ‘My angel’ Il Won Pak said his daughter was always curious. Nan Hee Pak had a curiosity about academics and about psychology and was hoping to one day become a doctor. The Rocklin High School student was known for being outgoing, according to Principal Michael Garrison. “She was a very outgoing young lady who was well connected to the school,” Garrison said. Garrison said Nan Hee Pak was involved in many activities on campus and a “delight to have in the classroom.” “She was very pleasant,” Garrison said Monday. “She would walk up and have a conversation with you.” On Monday, Garrison said counselors were available to help students cope and staff set up a poster for friends to write messages to Nan Hee Pak and her family. “It’s been a very difficult day for students and teachers,” Garrison said. Il Won Pak said he will remember his daughter, who had many friends, as “my angel.” He said sometimes the two would joke about whether or not the 16-year-old had a boyfriend. Il Won Pak said he remembers his daughter telling him, “The only boyfriend for me is my father.” ‘He was always giving out hugs’ Alex Weast not only liked cars – they were his passion. His father, Andrew Weast, said Monday that his 20-year-old son and he connected over their similar love for automobiles. “I have classic cars and we had a connection with that,” Andrew Weast said. Andrew Weast isn’t the only one who remembers Alex Weast’s strong love for vehicles. Friend Luke Hlawaty, 19, of Rocklin, said he remembers seeing Alex Weast’s Nissan 240 SX drive up many a time to Sushi Unlimited, which was a popular hangout for their large group of friends. Hlawaty said that he, Alex Weast and some other friends had signed up to take classes together at Sierra College in the spring semester. Hlawaty added that the caring, kind, funny, outgoing and smart 20-year-old could easily make other people happy. “Whenever he walked into a room, he’d always make it brighter,” Hlawaty said. “Everybody would be laughing. He was one of those guys who could make anyone laugh.” Alex Weast’s caring demeanor carried over to his family in which he was the third of four boys, Andrew Weast said. “He was just very special,” Andrew Weast said. “Every time I saw him he would say, ‘I love you, dad.’ He was always giving out hugs. “I’m going to miss him deeply,” Andrew Weast continued. “And so will his family and friends.” ‘It wrenches my heart’ Officer Dan Stark said investigators do not know at this time whether or not they will press charges against Barrera. The entire incident remains under investigation. Garrison described the 2007 Rocklin High graduate as “very personable.” Garrison said staff is keeping his family, as well as the other three families involved in the crash, in their thoughts and prayers. “Our hearts go out to those families who are dealing with this difficult time and also to the student who survived this,” Garrison said. “He’s going to be going through something much different.” Moneypenny said outside of more speed enforcement by officers, speed bumps or speed-limit signs, he doesn’t know what will stop drivers from taking too many chances on the country road filled with hairpin turns. “It wrenches my heart,” Moneypenny said. “Three families are just torn apart right now.” Jenifer Gee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.