Valley News -

By Jeff Pack
Writer 

Family, friends, community gather to honor teenager killed in crash

 

Last updated 6/6/2019 at 12:29pm

Jeff Pack photo

Hundreds of people held a candlelight vigil at Calvary Murrieta High School on Monday, June 3 to remember 15-year-old Lily Harrison who was killed in a traffic accident on Saturday, June 1 in unincorporated Temecula.

MURRIETA - A standing room only crowd on Monday, June 3 attended a service and later a candlelight vigil in honor of 15-year-old Calvary Murrieta High School student Lily Kelly Harrison just two days after a head-on collision crash in unincorporated Temecula took her life.

"This is a pretty awesome vantage point," Lily's mother, Faith Harrison Zember, told those in attendance. "And I know that the ripple goes far beyond what I'm seeing here today - so, thank you."

Harrison Zember spoke softly, clearly, and peacefully about the daughter who many touted as a talented singer and songwriter, athlete, student, and friend.

Jose A. Zazueta, 19, of Fallbrook was driving in excess of 55 miles per hour with three other passengers in his 2015 BMW 328i westbound on Rancho California Road on Saturday evening and lost control of his vehicle into the opposing traffic lane. That's when he collided head-on with a Toyota Corolla in which Lily was a passenger. The impact of the collision caused the teenager to suffer fatal blunt force trauma, according to the CHP.

"I will mourn the loss of my sweet girl for all of my living days here on this earth," Harrison Zember said. "I promise you, it was in God's hands, and he was merciful in the way that he chose to bring her home."

Zazueta has since been charged with felony driving under the influence of alcohol and felony vehicular manslaughter and is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Wednesday, June 5.

Instead of focusing on the alleged crime, Harrison Zember chose to speak solely about her daughter and her faith.

"She loved, she loved fully, she loved authentically, she hurt when you hurt," Harrison Zember said. "I could go on and on, I'd like to, I'd like this night not to end. There are so many things I wish you could know about her. I know each of you knows something, some of you may have never met her, but I pray that our loss is our Heavenly Father's gain.

"She made a bracelet and she wore it on Saturday night that said 'surrender' and that is how she lived her life. Thank you all so much for being a part of our lives."

Andrew Paulsen, Calvary Murrieta High's Youth Pastor, hosted the event and gave an update on the driver and passenger in the Corolla, both of which were transported to a local hospital after the crash.

The driver, Blake Gaston, 18, who just graduated last week from Calvary Murrieta High School was admitted to the hospital with bruising on his brain but was released at 1 p.m. Monday.

Caleb Powell,18, suffered fractures to his forearm and femur and underwent surgery to repair the bones. While the surgeries went well, according to Paulsen, he remains under observation at the hospital.

"Thank you all for coming, I wish we all were together for a different reason and time," Paulsen said. "But we wouldn't be a family, we wouldn't be a community if we only showed up when times were good. We're also together and support each other when times are hard and we face tragedy."

Lizzie Pancho, a Worship Developer at Calvary Murrieta High, who worked closely with Lily, sang two songs to open the services. Greg Hendricks from The Rock Church in San Diego offered a sermon and words of encouragement. Varsity Softball Coach Anthony Vines, one of Lily's coaches, also spoke of the shy "girl with the Division I arm."

During the service, the family played a live recording of the teenager performing a Christian folk song that she wrote in 2018 titled "I Am."

Lily's stepfather, Louie Zember, also addressed the audience, earlier in the program.

"I had the privilege to be the angel's dad," Zember said. "You don't know what pressure comes with being the dad to an angel."

Zember talked about the opportunity he had to read Lily's prayer journal and bible prior to the service.

"Lily surrendered her life to the Lord," he said. "And to read what she's already surrendering at 15 years old, was mindblowing."

Shane Gibson photo

Lily Harrison's mother, Faith Harrison Zember, and stepfather, Louie Zember, mourn the loss of their daughter during a vigil held in her honor at Calvary Murrieta High School on Monday, June 3.

Zember addressed the two boys in the car with Lily and three other boys that were in a car ahead of them when the crash occurred.

"Blake and Caleb, it is not your fault," he said. "There is nothing that Blake and Caleb did, nothing at all. It was Lily's time. That's one thing we have to remember.

"My wife and I, we have forgiven the driver of the other car. Not because we want to, but because we're called to. We will continue to forgive. That doesn't mean they're not going to be held responsible for their actions, but in our hearts and in our minds, they are forgiven."

Once the service was over, everyone moved out to the school's softball field for the candlelight vigil in Lily's honor.

As of press time, there is no announced schedule for a memorial service or burial.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at [email protected]

 

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