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Friends mourn teen who died in flood channel

September 22, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A pickup truck crashed through a fence into a flood-control channel at Rancho Road and Spa Drive in Westminster on Wednesday, killing a teenager and injuring two others.The accident happened about 3 p.m. The teen, 18-year-old Kody Kessler, was declared dead at the scene.

Huntington Beach resident Kristopher Howell, 18, a passenger, was injured but survived.

The driver, 18-year-old Jared Von Grote of Huntington Beach, was injured. Von Grote is a student at Marina High School.

Friends and fellow students gathered at the scene of the crash where Kessler died.

Kessler was a senior at Ocean View High School and had a passion for BMX biking.

A picture of Kessler was posted at the site where he lost his life. It read, "Ride those rails straight to heaven. You will be missed."

"I talked to him today after school," said Kessler's friend, Michael Mullin. "We were supposed to go riding. I heard from four other people that this had happened."

"I didn't believe it," said another friend, Sydney Link. "I thought it was a joke. I thought it was a lie, I didn't want to believe it. I'm still processing it. It's a shock."

Kessler was one of two passengers in the Chevrolet pickup truck that plowed over a 12-foot gravel shoulder, through a chain link fence, then rolled and crashed at least 20 feet into a flood control channel.

"We don't know if speed was a factor," said Westminster police Officer Van Woodson. "The speed limit here on Rancho Road is 40 miles per hour and there is some gravel along the roadway."

Courtney Laluk and father witnessed the crash.

"I saw the car fall over into the thing," she said. "I saw my dad and his friend get a ladderto get down there and they're all helping him out. There was nothing they could do for Kody because he was already gone."

Friends of Kessler said they will remember him as a good guy with a big heart, who could have had a bright future.

"He was a really good friend," Mullin said. "He was the nicest guy you'll ever meet. It's just a tragedy."

No charges have been made against the driver, Von Grote.

Police said they were all wearing their seatbelts.


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