Marcus Moore says his son, Mateus, and his girlfriend, Mickayla Friend, were complementary souls. She helped him with math. He helped her with other subjects. She played the alto saxophone. He played the tuba, trombone and guitar and was learning piano.
On Monday, three days after the death of the son he called my mini-me and the grievous injuries to his girlfriend, Moore cried as he offered a reflection rooted in ancient Chinese philosophy. He described the two teenagers from Marysville Charter Academy for the Arts as opposites in nature who came to rely upon each other, who seemingly couldnt exist without each other.
She was Yin and he was Yang, Moore said.
On Friday night, Mateus and Mickayla, both 16, were walking southbound on railroad tracks in Marysville. They were headed to the Dollar Store before going to a Sadie Hawkins dance. There was a noisy baseball game going on nearby. The teens didnt realize a train was coming up from behind them.
My thought was they waded into a perfect storm, Moore said.
The train sounded a warning horn and tried to stop, but it was too late. Mateus shoved Mickayla away, sparing her from the brunt of the impact. She was rushed to Sutter Roseville Medical Center, where she was in intensive care in serious condition Monday with multiple injuries. Mateus died at the scene Friday. He saved Mickaylas life by giving his own.
On Sunday night, the community turned out in a vigil of grief and concern as hundreds of people, many holding candles and many clad in purple Mateus favorite color packed the Earle Yorton Little League park.
On Monday, Marysville Charter Academy was somber as Mateus and Mickaylas classmates returned to school. There was a memorial of flowers and a hand-painted sign In Memory of Mateus Moore. Psychologists and grief counselors from the Marysville Joint Unified School District and victim services staffers from Yuba County were on campus to provide emotional support.
Instruction was not our primary focus today, but we did our best to go on with life, said Tim Malone, principal of Marysville Charter Academy, a school for grades 7-12.
Marcus Moore, a civilian defense officer and Air Force reservist at Beale Air Force Base, was torn by conflicting emotions. He was so proud of Mateus, whom I could always trust to do the right thing. And yet he had lost his oldest son, who shared his love of music, who wanted to follow him into an Air Force career. Mateus even talked about attending his dads alma mater, Texas A&M University-San Antonio.
My son is my best friend, my mini-me, Moore said in an interview Monday. And he meant so much to me. He was my rock.
Mickayla Friends mother, Sandy Friend, told Sacramentos Channel 40 (KTXL) that Moore sacrificed himself to save my daughter. She said Mickayla told her at the hospital: I remember Mateus turning and looking back. And I turned and looked back. I remember him pushing me out of way of the train.
Union Pacific spokesman Aaron Hunt said in a statement that the train crew was unable to stop before the incident took place.
Our hearts go out to friends and family of the two individuals involved in this terrible accident, Hunt said. It is a stark reminder that railroad tracks are never a safe place to be.
Dozens of people watching the nearby Little League baseball game witnessed the collision before dusk and many called for help. The Sadie Hawkins dance, at a community center near campus, was canceled and families received a call from school staff: Something tragic has happened. Come pick up your kids.
For Sandy Friend, the horrific event compounded a tragic family saga.
In 1996, Friends 8-year-old son, Michael Lyons, was kidnapped and stabbed to death. The killer, Robert Boyd Rhoades, sentenced to die by lethal injection, remains on Californias death row.
Mickayla, who was born afterward, was named after Michael, a boy she described in a 2012 Sacramento Bee guest column as my 8-year-old angel with a smile for whom I will grieve for the rest of my life.
After her sons death, Sandy Friend became a community volunteer for an organization working with victims of traumatic events. Now, while worrying about her daughter, she is helping console and counsel Mateus family.
I told her I needed her help because I dont know what to do, Marcus Moore said. There is no playbook for this. She singlehandedly put that whole vigil together (Sunday night). She has been so kind in helping me. I really appreciate her.
The Moore family moved to the area last year when Marcus transferred from Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio to Beale. At home, Mateus was a doting and sometimes demanding older brother to his siblings, Jailyn, 10, Trevian, 8, and Gabriela, 6. He delighted in teaching Trevian the art of video games from Pokemon to Call of Duty: Black Ops. He did housework and weed whacking and saw to it that his siblings kept up with their chores.
He was the leader, my third in command, right after my wife, Moore said.
Mateus had played high school football, as a defensive back on his freshman team in San Antonio. But Mateus loved playing multiple instruments and enjoyed flashy marching bands as well as the psychedelic rhythms of 60s and 70s Pink Floyd. He dropped football for music. And in sophomore band class at Marysville Charter, he clicked with Mickayla, a beautiful, sweet and caring person, Moore said. They had dated for most of the school year.
Mateus death and Mickaylas absence were felt Monday at Marysville Charters jazz band rehearsal. There were two empty seats: Mickaylas in the saxophone section, Mateus in the trombone chair.
It was rough; a couple of kids were really emotional, said band director Matt Plummer. We talked about how to cope, then sat down, played some music and kept them in our thoughts the whole time.
Victoria Herrick, 16, a former student at Marysville Charter Academy for the Arts, said Mateus stature big and tall for a 16-year-old startled her at first. But she quickly saw his kindness and the positive effect he had on others.
Mateus was a really good person. He was really smart and he was really nice with the sixth- and seventh-graders, Herrick said. He was really quiet, but when he spoke, everybody listened.
On Monday, worried and grief-stricken kids at school spoke of Mickayla and Mateus, the boyfriend who saved her.
They look at him as a great hero, said principal Malone, which he is.
Call The Bees Peter Hecht, (916) 326-5539.