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Candlelight Vigil Marks Teen Tragedy

More than 100 young mourners pay respects to Taylor Jordan Sams, 18, who died Sunday morning in a car accident.

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.

The vigil was announced on Facebook early Sunday afternoon. A separate campaign urged people to wear white in Sams' honor on Monday.

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."

Julie Flores September 19, 2011 at 06:57 PM
This is very sad. I hope these people find comfort with their friends and families.
Jack Leonard September 19, 2011 at 08:59 PM
I couldn't help reflect back on my own life as I read Taylor's story, saw her photo and heard from friends as I watched the video of the memorial. I was 18, just out of high school when I was on my motorcycle, hit from behind by an acquaintance... no helmet; should have lost my life, definitely at least my right foot above the ankle... the Lord had a purpose for my life and here I am today. Sharing the same age, different result, It was especially sad to see and hear and read your article and video; but it was a reminder too of the value of life, and how important it is to be so uplifting and positive to and for others as Taylor was, and would have HOPED others would learn to be as she was, as she did, as she shared her gifts... to, in turn, share with others in need.
tinynotepad September 20, 2011 at 02:30 PM
I didn't know her but I have buds who do, and lose a precious life is crazy. She was a good person from what I heard!! Lord wants her up there and she has a new home for etenity
Steve Barlow September 20, 2011 at 04:40 PM
This is truly a parents' worst nightmare. What a tragedy to lose a child; life is already too short, but it's even worse when a young person dies. Best wishes to Taylor's family in this difficult time.
Raushanah turner September 20, 2011 at 05:49 PM
My condolences go out to the family. We just lost my Newphew august 28th and he was my sisters only child. May God comfort and bring u peace in this time of need. Love Raushanah

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