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September 20, 2014

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A community comes together in the wake of teen’s shocking death

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Brian Nordli

Friends and neighbors gathered to wash cars to raise money for Marcos Arenas’ family Saturday, May 18, 2013. Arenas, 15, died on Thursday in a hit-and-run incident involving two men trying to steal his iPad.

Growing up, Cherann Escalante remembered her community coming together to hold a car wash every time tragedy struck. On Saturday, she held a car wash for 15-year-old Marcos Arenas.

If there ever was a reason to hold a car wash, it was for Arenas, Escalante said. She is close friends with the family and knew Arenas well. He was a typical high school student, who loved to laugh and dance to R&B.

He was the oldest of 10, the mature older brother. He played football, sang choir and had dreams to be a football player, boxer or Marine after he graduated from Bonanza High School.

Escalante still can’t believe Arenas' life was cut short over an iPad.

Investigators determined that two men in a Ford Explorer attempted to steal Arenas’ prized iPad -- a birthday gift from his father -- at about 4 p.m. on Thursday. A man had exited the Ford and tried to pull the iPad from Arenas’ hands, according to reports. Arenas refused to let go and was dragged to the passenger side door. The car drove off, dragging him underneath the wheels and killing him.

Click to enlarge photo

A candlelight vigil is held Friday, May 17, 2013, in remembrance of Bonanza High School freshman Marcos Vincente Arenas, who was killed when he was run over by an SUV driven by thieves who had targeted the teen.

Escalante hopes the car wash will make sure the community doesn’t forget Arenas.

“It means a lot to Ivan and Autumn (Marcos’ parents),” Escalante said. “It shows who Marcos was out here, how (Ivan's) boy is recognized by the community. It makes Ivan a lot stronger.”

The car wash, held behind a building on Charleston Boulevard, near Scholl Drive, was only a few yards from where Arenas was killed, a half-mile from Bonanza High School, and blocks from where he lived. Nearby is Arenas’ memorial. It has grown into a cement garden filled with flowers and balloons surrounding a poster filled with notes from those who cared for Arenas.

Sarah Quintana, who lived in the same apartment complex as the Arenas, initiated the car wash, approaching Escalante with the idea late Friday night. The next day they had a crew of about 10 friends and family ready to help.

“We wanted to help the family, and it touched my heart that a child would get hurt over an iPad,” Quintana said.

Bradley Brown didn’t know Arenas but he was at the scene of the accident. Brown was walking home when he saw Arenas lying unconscious in the road. He called the police as he watched the man whom he thinks was responsible stand over the body for a moment before driving off.

He felt the least he could do was help out at the car wash.

Pamela Largé lives down the street from where the crime took place. She said she has little money; car washes are typically a luxury she does without. She made an exception this time.

“I passed by a car wash the other day for $5. This one is for $10, but it’s worth it,” Largé said. “My car has been dirty for six months and it was going to stay that way until I saw this.”

After three hours of washing cars, Escalante estimated that they raised $400 for the family. They plan to hold another car wash on Sunday at the corner of Charleston and Rainbow boulevards.

It will be another chance for the community to come together over a tragedy and honor the memory of Marcos Arenas.

“We take life for granted. Something like this, people might forget, but I hope he’ll always live on,” Escalante said. “This was over an iPad. I hope his story will (be remembered).”

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