ANTIOCH, Calif. (KTVU) - A candlelight vigil was held Tuesday night in Antioch for two teenagers killed in a car crash last Friday. 17-year old driver Leana Rubin and 13-year-old Jaia Lightner died when their car crashed into a tree on Lone Tree Way. Four other teens in the car were injured.
More than 100 people gathered for the vigil. Prayers and candles filled the Walmart parking lot in Antioch across from a growing memorial where the two young lives were lost.
“Leana was a joy,” said Leana Rubin’s Grandmother Annette Castro. “She was funny. She was a jokester.”
Rubin was behind the wheel in a car with five other teenagers. They were leaving a basketball game at Deer Valley High School Friday night, when less than a mile away, Leana lost of the control of the car hitting a tree. She and Lightner were killed. Authorities said Rubin was likely speeding. Video of the crash shows the vehicle wrapped around a tree.
“Accidents happen with very experienced drivers,” said Leana Rubin’s Aunt Justelle Engelhard. “She was a new driver and the road was wet.”
Lightner was thrown from the car. Her family said she was not wearing a seatbelt. Four other teenagers were injured including Lightner’s 13-year-old best friend and Leana's sister Kiara. Her family said Kiara suffered several fractures and is recovering in the hospital.
“When I heard from the family that she was dead, I was hysterical,” said Jaia Lightner’s Uncle Maurice Jones.
Family and friends are coming to grips with their sudden deaths as a community comes together to rally behind them.
“It is a sense of comfort showing all the love and support but the pain is still there,” said Jones. “It's going to be there.”
Rubin was in independent studies. She was a former student at Deer Valley High School. Lightner was an eighth grader at Delta Vista Middle School in Oakley. Her death hitting her classmates hard. Many of them were unable to hold back their tears.
“I’m just really hurt,” said Jaia Lightner’s Best Friend Rayaunna Criddell. “I miss her so much. We couldn't believe it because she was such a good girl. She was happy. Nothing was wrong with her.”
“A lot of kids drive fast,” said Engelhard. “A lot of kids have other kids in the vehicle with a lot of distractions. A lot of us get lucky and fortunate it doesn't end like this but this is too many lives lost for a senseless act of something that could have been prevented.”
At last check, the four teens who did survive are all still in the hospital. Funeral arrangements for Rubin are pending. Lightner’s funeral will be this Friday in Oakley. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family