Friends, family mourn students

Thursday, May 05, 2005 - GLENDORA -- Friends and family members gathered Thursday at a shrine of candles, flowers and letters where two Glendora teens were killed when they were ejected from the trunk of a packed car that crashed into a tree.

Students from nearby Glendora High School where the boys, Scott Atchison and Chris Snyder, attended, hugged and cried.

Atchison's uncle, Jimmy Byrge, 32, was among the mourners on Route 66 near Compromise Line Road where Wednesday's accident happened around 3 p.m.

Byrge, shaken by his nephew's death, said he found comfort among those who came to memorialize the teens' lives.

"I came to soak up everything I could about Scott. All his good spirits," he said, breaking into tears. "Everyone is here, and it's awesome."

John Atchison, Scott's only brother, joined his uncle on Route 66.

The 10-year old said he was having a birthday next month and thinks his brother's spirit will jump into the room.

"I'm hoping," John said.

Atchison and Snyder hitched a ride Wednesday with a 17-year-old, unlicensed driver from San Dimas who did not attend Glendora High School, authorities said.

They got into the trunk because the Mazda Protege was filled with other boys.

Witnesses said the Mazda was traveling west when its driver allegedly swerved in front of a delivery truck in the next lane. The driver lost control, striking trees in the center divider and ejecting the boys, who were struck in the eastbound lanes by a Chevy van.

The driver of the van and the passengers in the Mazda were treated for minor injuries. The boys died at Childrens Hospital in Los Angeles.

Glendora police Lt. Gino Dominico said it appeared the trunk was shut at the time of the accident.

"It was a bad decision on the driver's part. It was a bad decision all around." Dominico said.

The accident is under investigation and the driver had not been cited.

Donald Hansen of Glendora said his son, Cory, 14, was a front-seat passenger in the Mazda. Hansen said his son is devastated and feels guilty.

Michael Gillespie of Temple City heard about his friend's death on the radio. Gillespie, 18, and Snyder were lifelong friends.

"He was No. 1. Keep him in your heart and don't forget him," Gillespie said.

Joshua Leeper, 18, admitted to getting into trunks, just like his friends.

"We're kids. We never think anything bad is going to happen," said Leeper, a senior at Glendora High.

A team of counselors was dispatched to the campus.

A memorial torch on the high school campus will burn until the boys are buried.