UPDATE: Friends mourn Vancouver woman who died in Calif. crash

By Patty Hastings and Paul Suarez



Candlelight vigil

A candlelight vigil for Mandy Lathim is set for 8:30 p.m. Saturday at Homestead Park near the intersection of Southeast 160th Avenue and Southeast 18th Street in east Vancouver.

On the Web

Click here to view the Pray for Mandy Lathim page on Facebook

Mandy Lathim, 18, the Vancouver woman injured in a July 3 car crash on Interstate 5 in northern California, died Wednesday night at Mercy Medical Center in Redding, Calif., a family spokeswoman said.

“Our sweet baby girl slipped away from us about an hour ago. She died peacefully in our arms,” her mom, Denise Ellis wrote on her daughter’s memorial Facebook page.

Three other young adults from Vancouver were injured in the single-car rollover, according to California Highway Patrol.

Brian Teh-Shiun Jeng, 19, of Vancouver was driving a 2004 Kia sedan south on I-5, north of Weed, Calif., around 11:30 a.m. July 3 when the car left the road, overturned and ejected two people, said Officer Joe Gardner with California Highway Patrol.

Jeng and his passengers, Kayla S. Vera, 17, and Gregory Ryan, 17, were treated and released from the hospital after the crash.

Lathim was sent to Mercy Medical Center in Redding with “major injuries,” Gardner said. She was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.

The teen was set to attend Western Washington University in Bellingham this fall. She was student body vice president at Mountain View High School and a homeless shelter volunteer. In March she received a “Best of Women” award for her volunteer efforts from Soroptimist International Southwest Washington, a local chapter of the worldwide Soroptimist movement, which aims to make life better for women and girls.

Always smiling

Lathim also was team captain of her school’s gymnastics team and a youth gymnastics coach at Naydenov Gymnastics.

“As a coach she loved coming here,” said Naydenov co-owner Kevin Jenkins.

Jenkins attended Mandy’s graduation at McKenzie Stadium June 12. He said Mandy couldn’t believe she was getting paid to coach gymnastics and always smiled as she worked.

“Mandy was just 100 percent perfect in her coaching,” Jenkins said. “She made the kids have fun. She loved it.”

Just a couple of days before the car accident, Mandy learned a full twisting layout, an advanced gymnastics move.

Mandy’s mother, Denise Ellis, made a book full of letters from her friends for her birthday, said Megan Runyan, 17.

“I have noticed the heart you bring each and every day when you come to class. You are a true leader that many will try and model after you leave Mountain View. ... Your drive, passion and energy is something that is rare in a high school student,” wrote Peter Vandatta, her leadership teacher.

Chavo Camargo, a friend at Mountain View, wrote, “You are little in stature, but the things you are capable of are bigger than any of us will ever be. I know you’ll make an impact in the community.”

“Whether it was your positive outlook on life, your determination, or your humor, you have been someone I really look forward to seeing every day,” Madisen Phillips wrote.