Close to 1,000 family members, classmates, friends and community members, many dressed in colorful surfer clothing, gathered at the Marin Covenant Church in San Rafael in Northern California to celebrate the lives of two young men who died in a freeway crash in Pasadena on July 15.
Tristan Lee Witte and JJ Adkisson, both 20 years old when they died, were remembered in a service at the church followed by a reception in the churchyard. Before the celebration, the family asked friends to leave their black clothing at home and wear surfer clothing as the young men would have.
Friends also wrote messages for the two men and their families on a graffiti wall at the reception.
“It was a beautiful event that celebrated the boys passions, achievements, kindness and mentorship to others. The huge attendance was a testament to how many people these boys touched during their lives. They have left a great legacy. Very emotional but also uplifting,” one moutner wrote on social media, urging readers to “ Appreciate your life and live it to its full[est].”
Witte and Adkisson were killed when the red Buick they were in was involved in a five-vehicle crash on the I-210 Freeway at Sierra Madre Villa, hours before Caltrans was schedule to close major portions of the freeway through Pasadena.
The 4:57 p.m. wreck left one car crushed, one overturned, a truck straddling the concrete Gold Line train barrier and two others damaged. Four other persons in the other vehicles were injured.
Their families said the two friends were driving to Claremont to pick up classmates at Harvey Mudd for a weekend camping trip when the accident occurred.
Both the Witte and Adkisson families have set up scholarship funds to honor the two young men.
Adkisson was getting his Bachelors’ in Fine Arts, graphic design, at CalArts when he died. Witte was attending Harvey Mudd College where he was studying engineering.