Candlelight vigil held for Steele Canyon student killed
It is a packed vigil, as in standing room only. Hundreds of broken-hearted teenagers filed into Steele Canyon High School to say goodbye to fellow classmate Julian Fraire. The 16-year-old was killed last Thursday morning when the van he was driving drifted into the lane of an oncoming pick-up truck. The ceremony started with Julian's mother and father lighting candles that were then passed down to other family members, then to all paying their respects. As the teens watched, it was apparent for many that this was their first experience with death – a tough lesson to learn, one not taught in the classroom.
“He had so much knowledge about facts, about the world, and things in other countries…” recounted a grief-stricken peer.
From this tragedy comes stories of kindness and compassion, the story of one parent who witnessed the accident and stayed with Julian until he took his last breath.
“We had a parent who stopped by before the first responders got there and he held Julian, and prayed with him, and told him that his mother and his father loved him,” said Eileen Poole, principal of Steele Canyon High School. “And then Julian died.”
Firefighters who helped extricate Julian's body from the wreckage got emotional when talking about the teen.
“The fire service, we go on tragedy every day… but for some reason this one stuck out more than others,” said Chief Gary Croucher of the San Miguel Fire District. “So know that he is part of us – your community, your fire service, your EMS service workers. We have not taken this lightly.”
Julian's tragic passing shakes up not only students and firefighters, but parents as well.
“It affected me because it just hits so close to home,” said parent Amy Buerrosse. “You always worry about your kids.”
But there's a good reason for the parents of teenagers learning to drive to be concerned in the wake of Julian's death. The CHP is investigating whether texting played a role in the tragedy. And then there was the fact that the CHP reports the day before he died, Julian was involved in another accident. What matters most is saying goodbye to a young man described as one very smart and kind 16-year-old – no matter what the circumstances of how he died.
At the vigil were several of the firefighters who courageously tried to save Julian's life.