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Healing the emotional scars of a crash that took two 'lovely lives'

Morgan Helman’s mother reflects on her daughter, hopes teens learn from tragic lesson
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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The scars are deep. But the healing has started for the Helman family, just more than a week after the death in a sport-utility vehicle crash near Auburn Feb. 3 that took the life of 17-year-old Morgan Helman.

Morgan’s mother, Christina Helman said Tuesday that, in one word, her daughter was amazing and a service Monday at Granite Bay’s Bayside Church was a tribute to the number of people she touched.

“Morgan would have been happy,” Helman said. An estimated 1,500 people were at the service. On Tuesday, Helman attended a service in Newcastle for the other teen killed in the Auburn Folsom Road crash – 13-year-old Vivian Connor of Newcastle.

Helman says her hope is that people knowing of her daughter’s story will learn from it.

“We’ve all been teens and we’ve all done stupid things,” Helman said. “Morgan was always known to put on her seatbelt – that was the hardest part for me.”

The California Highway Patrol reported that both girls were in the backseat and not wearing seatbelts when the SUV, driven by a 17-year-old Auburn youth, left the road and crashed.

The last text from Morgan showed a fire pit. The group of six teens was returning from an Auburn store with ingredients they had just bought for Smores.

“They were doing something as innocent as getting some marshmallows,” Helman said. “You have to stop and think. Fasten your seatbelt before driving. It only takes a second.”

Helman said Morgan often spoke out against bullying and would not have liked any to have targeted the driver in the crash. On Monday, Helman and the boy sat side-by-side at the service.

“I just want people to stop and think like Morgan,” Helman said. “She would help out people who felt awkward and welcomed them to the group.”

Already being planned is an anti-bullying run, with more details coming in April or May. The Helman family is also planning to set up a foundation to allow children to attend surf camp, one of the many activities Morgan was involved in.

Lifeguarding, swimming, synchronized swimming and volleyball were some of the activities Morgan took part in.

“She was also extremely active in several churches,” Helman said. “She was in different youth groups and very outgoing.”

Born in Auburn, Morgan’s early school years were at the Pine Hill Adventist Academy, in Auburn where her parents and grandparents had gone before her. She had transferred this past summer from a Sacramento County school to Del Oro High School and was living with an elementary school friend of her mother’s in Loomis to attend.

“She loved the school,” Helman said. “She blossomed there and had found her place.”

That Sunday, Morgan had asked to go to a Super Bowl party at a church friend’s.

“She wasn’t around people who would drink and party,” Helman said.

The crash took place at about 7:35 p.m., just west of Lees Lane, south of Auburn. Helman soon afterward received the phone call parents dread.

“They were just kids being kids,” Helman said. “It cost our world two lovely lives.”

 

Morgan Helman benefit concert

When: 6-8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16. Doors open at 5 p.m.

Where: New Life Christian Center, 2037 Elkhorn Blvd., Rio Linda

Performing: Lybecker, Josiah James, Unseen Love

The event celebrating Morgan’s love of music is free. An offering will be taken and donations accepted, with all proceeds going to the Morgan Helman FCA Surf Camp Scholarship.