They prayed, they wept and they stared in disbelief. On a night filled with sadness, at least 150 people—most not yet out of college—gathered on a Rancho Santa Margarita street corner and remembered Taylor Jordan Sams.
The 18-year-old died early Sunday while riding in a small pickup truck that heading south toward RSM—her home. She was pronounced dead at the scene, at 1:45 a.m.
The male behind the wheel was reportedly tired and lost control, drifting right, then veering left onto the dirt median, where the vehicle flipped.
Sams, a recent graduate of Mission Viejo High, had just started attending Saddleback College.
"She never let anyone get her down," said Amanda Raslowski, a friend since seventh grade. "If you needed to talk about anything, she knew exactly what you were going through. She always knew the right thing to say."
Sams would have provided comfort to those gathered Sunday night at the corner of Fundadores and Santa Margarita Parkway, where posters with her picture were duct-taped to trees and candles burned softly to match the mood.
At Sunday's gathering, Robbie Romero, a senior at Mission Viejo High, said he saw Sams on Friday night between the football game and the school dance and considered himself lucky. "I gave her a big hug and we asked each other how we were doing," Romero recalled, choking back tears. "She said she was doing fine and great."
According to friends, Sams had received an "engaged to be engaged" ring from her boyfriend, Nathan Standley. "She told me she was going to move to Colorado and be with her boyfriend and get married," Raslowski said. "It should not have been her time."
Bernardo Medeiros came up with the idea for the impromptu tribute. He said the last time he and Sams spoke, they promised to "hang out this summer."
"We never got around to it," Medeiros said, "and I'm regretting it. ... It's crazy to think about how fast your life can come and go."