SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY --
A grieving San Joaquin County mother claims light-up crosses for her daughter and her three friends were stolen last week. Now, Patti DeAngelis is pleading with the alleged thieves to return the crosses to the site of the deadly car crash that took their lives.
DeAngelis said those crosses were handmade by her husband, and added that this is not the first time crosses, candles and other trinkets to her daughter and the other three victims have been stolen or vandalized over the past three months.
But with the crosses gone she said she relives the pain all over again.
In a tight embrace, two mothers are united by grief. DeAngelis and Gina MacFadden both lost their teenagers in a crash that ended on McKinley Avenue in French Camp back in September. San Joaquin sheriff’s deputies said at the time, the driver, Gina’s son Steven, was allegedly drunk and tried to drive away from deputies.
His SUV crashed. He, along with 16-year-old Megan Little Bear Wall and 20-year-old Alejandro Rodriguez, was killed instantly. DeAngelis’ 16-year-old daughter, Rose Capela Bio, died later in a hospital.
It has taken some time to heal, but now the two women consider each other friends. Friends who have used the accident site to remember their kids who they describe as funny, smart and loving. But it’s been challenging.
“I feel like part of my soul died when she did, and the rest, whatever is left, it just bleeds a lot,” DeAngelis explained.
“It’s so hard to even still come out here, really is,” MacFadden told FOX40.
DeAngelis said that on Dec. 12 she and her family placed four handmade crosses where the crash happened. They lit up and were a way for the families to find solace.
Five days later the memorial was gone.
“Can’t believe what kind of person or people would ever steal something like that. They’re precious children’s memorials,” DeAngelis said.
A passerby told DeAngelis she saw some teens grab the crosses then drive off. Four holes are all that’s left. The crosses are irreplaceable, but there are still some things that remind the mothers of their kids.
For DeAngelis, it’s her daughter’s name written on the light poles near the site and a necklace. For MacFadden, she’s reminded of her son, who she calls kindhearted, in little ways.
“Just as I pulled onto the road, one of his favorite songs came on the radio, and it was just like him… that’s what got me so emotional. It was just like him saying, ‘It’s OK. It’s OK, Mom,” MacFadden said.
For a grief that unites, a pain still raw.
We also asked the sheriff’s department and Caltrans if they removed the crosses, they told us they did not.
The family hopes whoever took the crosses will return them.