The family and friends of Desirae Crystal Crittenden sought strength from one another Thursday night at a vigil for the college student killed by a suspected drunken driver.
Crittenden, 19, is a Turlock native who attended Wakefield Elementary before moving to Merced. She was a sophomore at California State University, Northridge and was staying in the area for the summer.
The collision was reported around 3:30 a.m. Sunday at an intersection in Northridge. Crittenden was out getting food for her Alpha Phi sorority sister when her car was broadsided by a Honda. The collision ignited a fire and Crittenden was pronounced dead at the scene, according to law enforcement.
The driver of the Honda is under investigation for driving under the influence. The investigation is ongoing.
The family and friends from the Turlock and Merced area gathered Thursday night at Moraga Estates Park in Merced for a candlelight vigil and to remember the vivacious girl they called Des.
"Des lived life to the fullest and beyond,” said family friend Cherie Sanchez. “She was colorful and creative and knew how to live and embrace the life she was given."
Family and friends recalled Crittenden as an enthusiast of photographs, music, dancing and was avid San Francisco Giants fan. But more than her hobbies, Crittenden was remembered for her loyalty and giving spirit. She served as a volunteer at Mercy Medical Center in Merced and a tutor at El Capitan High School.
"As her father I knew how amazing she was, but it's been amazing to see all the other lives she has touched from down south to here at home,” said her father Henry Crittenden. “I thank everyone for all the love and support. She definitely was one of a kind, my baby girl."
The outpouring of support and love at the vigil was an uplifting moment to Crittenden’s mother, who said the event would have tickled her daughter.
"She is looking down on us and is happy. She would want it to be a happy thing," her mother Monica Saucedo said.
Donations in Crittenden's memory can be made at Golden One Credit Union in Turlock.
— Candy Padilla contributed to this story.