Teenager mourned at emotional funeral | VailDaily.com

Teenager mourned at emotional funeral

J.K. Perry and Nikki Katz

J.K. Perry/Vail DailyA procession of family and friends follows the hearse containing Viridiana Loera, 15, who died Saturday after a month-long battle against injuries she suffered in a May 24 accident.

EAGLE ” It’s been said before and was said again Thursday during the funeral of teenager Viridiana Loera ” no parent should have to bury their child.

“When sons and daughters die first, we can’t understand the pain the parents feel,” Father Stephen Seibert said to the mourning crowd sitting in the pews of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Eagle. “It’s double, triple for this accident, this tragedy.”

Seibert, a preist at Holy Family Church in Denver, visited Loera at Denver Health as she fought wounds suffered in a May 24 rollover involving eight other teenagers in a Jeep Grand Cherokee. She would have been a sophomore next year at Battle Mountain High School, where others said she had many friends.

The service continued with several songs and readings from the Bible, and Seibert delivered words of closure from the podium.

“If at the time they had said, ‘Actually, let’s not get in the car. Let’s stay here.’ Or if they had just been more careful … but it’s the past,” Seibert said. “It’s all in the past.”

The service concluded as the family stood and gathered around Loera’s cloth-drapped closed casket. Family and friends followed the casket out of the church, passing an easel graced with photos chronicling Loera’s life.

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A walking procession stretched long and thin down the streets of Eagle to Sunset View Cemetery, some lagging behind to reign in their grief.

Holy words in Spanish sounded from the lips of those gathered around Loera’s casket as it descended into the earth and hard sobs shook the bodies of Loera’s teenage friends.

Others tossed brightly-colored flowers on the casket, which thudded when they hit the silver metal lid.

Heather Goodrich, an English language teacher at Battle Mountain High School, hugged friends as the crowd began to disperse.

“The reason we’re teachers is we’re dedicated to these kids,” Goodrich said. “When a life ends early it’s unfathomable, and you can’t believe it’s over. She was a truly beautiful person.”

Many teachers and students from Battle Mountain attended the service.

“There’s such a wonderful community feeling,” teacher Linda Welch said. “We feel like they’re all our girls.”

Eight of Loera’s high school friends wore matching T-shirts that said “We love you” and “We’ll remember you” around pictures of Loera. The girls also gave a shirt to Loera’s mother, Maria.

Viridiana Loera was dedicated to her studies, said cousin and former babysitter Ogie De Loera of Chicago.

“She was studying French and German too,” De Loera said. “She would say ‘I want to grow up to be an adult and work somewhere where I can use my speaking and help my dad.’

“She wanted to be able to help her family because they didn’t have a lot of money.”

Shortly before her accident, Viridiana Loera insisted her family visit De Loera in Chicago during summer break so she wouldn’t miss school, De Loera said.

“They were supposed to come,” she said. “We had planned to visit the Sears Tower and other trips, but then there was the accident.”

Family meant a lot to Viridiana Loera.

“She was very dedicated to her family,” Goodrich said. “She really respected her parents and was close to them and her siblings.”

Loera’s 5-year-old brother, Julio, constantly wailed throughout the funeral and burial, adding to the chorus of other sobbing family members.

“It’s hard to watch Jose and Maria,” family friend Heidi Ham said of Viridiana’s parents.

“Because they work so hard for their family,” Stacy Palmer added.

Palmer and Ham work with Jose Loera at Los Amigos in Vail, where they saw the love he lavished on his children.

“They’d come into the restaurant, and he’d buy all the kids dinner,” Palmer said. “He was so proud of his family.”

De Loera said she has fond memories of her cousin, who loved dancing, laughing and being silly.

“I was looking at a picture the other day of her when she had a ton of candy. I mean, she had handfuls of chocolate and a big smile,” De Loera said. “She was a free-spirited girl. Everything was funny to her.”

Family friend Alfredo Ramos of Edwards said he had watched Loera grow up since she was about 4-years-old and living in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

“One time, when they had just arrived (to the United States) for the first time, we went up to the mountains in Leadville,” he said. “She loved it so much. She would jump on the rocks.

“I’m very sad to have lost her. I really respect her.”

Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 748-2928 or jkperry@vaildaily.com. Staff Writer Nikki Katz can be reached at vdeditintern@vaildaily.com.

Vail, Colorado