Candlelight Vigil Ceremony


Malieka Khan

On Febuary 7, 2019 the city of Yorba Linda gathered together to comemorate the random occurance that struck the city days before. Over one hundred residents had shown up to show their support for the victims and families of the plane crash.

Gabby McCutchan and Malieka Khan

Tragedy struck the tranquil town of Yorba Linda when a small-scale plane crashed into a resident’s home on February 3rd, 2019. Neighbors and nearby residing residents have justifiably been shaken up amongst the confusion and chaos during this time of grief. And during this time of despair it occured to the residents of Yorba Linda to hold on to one another tightly in hopes to ease the pain and mend the wounds inflicted by the incident.

The formation and planning of a candlelight vigil in order to remember those who tragically lost their lives rapidly spread “by word of mouth” as Wendy Rawley, the planner and coordinator of the event, puts it. She confessed that she never expected word to travel around town so fast, that the number of people who showed up to the event was far more than she had originally anticipated.

In addition to spreading the information by mouth, a prominent Facebook group called “Yorba Linda News You Can Use” posted the photo above with the caption “A few details for the CANDLELIGHT VIGIL this evening…”

When asked about her intentions of initiating the vigil, Rawley explained that the gathering was extremely necessary, not only for those grieving but the town as well. “People felt the need to come together and show the love,” she vocalized, “This type of thing shows that even if [the victims are] not here… look at all of this. We love you. We care.”

She added that in order to successfully pull off the function that took place at Glenknoll Elementary, her and a few other coordinators dedicated 12-hour days solely on the detailing and organization. Planning began almost immediately on the same Sunday of the misfortune, and from there word spread like a wildfire.

The occasion itself started at around 7:30pm and began with the mayor of Yorba Linda, Tara Campbell, opening with a few words to not only address the situation at hand, but also the effect it had on the family and the community as a whole. She constantly reminded the large crowd of over one hundred people of the complete randomness of this situation and how it could truly happen to anyone, including “you or me.”

While her kind and warm words were being spoken to several news stations and more importantly, those deeply affected by the traumatic experience such as the family involved, hundreds of people began to light their candles off the flames that had already been lit while the mayor was speaking. As she spoke of Yorba Linda’s community, those behind her began to light their candles with matches. Among those people were city council chairman, Gene Hernandez, and the coordinator of the event, Wendy Rawley.

Once the handful of candles had been self-lit, slowly the light began to make rounds around the crowd and within a minute a wave of hundreds of candles had been shining brightly in the night to commemorate the event that took place that fateful day. While they had been lit, the mayor handed the mic over to the priest of the church that the victims’ family commonly attended.

It was apparent from the ceremony that the family affected by the plane crash had been quite religious, especially the son-in-law Don Elliott. The priest had quoted several Bible verses in which he also threw in several personal stories of his close relationship with Elliot who he had last seen that very morning of the accident. He had ended his speech with a verse that Elliot had particularly liked which stated that “whether you like it or not, God loves you. Deal with it.”

Quinn Pope (9), a nearby resident of the home of which that the plane crashed into, described his experiences on Sunday with a solemn expression painted on his face, “The whole ground shook, I swear I haven’t felt the ground shake like that since the earthquakes a few years ago… I could hear the engine of the plane come down and I just thought it was a super car racing down the street really, really fast.”

The accident had opened up the eyes of the community which led to the conclusion that though people live every day in ways that may seem simple, these things can be taken for granted in a second. As the mayor stated it truly could happen to anyone at any moment, so live life to the fullest extent while possible, and remember the victims and their families of this traumatic incident during their troubling time.