Weeks after winning the state football championship, the Del Oro Golden Eagles came back together Saturday to bear the casket of defensive tackle Ronny Andrews.
The players, in matching Del Oro ties and solemn expressions, carried Andrews’ body at Destiny Church in Rocklin past hundreds of teary-eyed faces, many of them teenagers. Leading the group with a noticeable limp was Anthony Watson, the Rocklin High School student who was a passenger in Andrews’ car during the fatal accident.
Watson was released from a hospital the day afterward with bruised lungs and muscle contusions in his right leg. He believes slick road conditions led to the Jan. 16 accident in which Andrews’ vehicle struck a tree as it headed north on Park Drive in Rocklin.
“I’m walking because I can and he can’t,” he said Saturday. “He was the best friend I ever had.”
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Many at the memorial service described Andrews, 18, as a close friend. His casket, draped with sunflowers, became a canvas on which loved ones scrawled mourning messages in gold Sharpie pen. Hanging in the lobby of the church was a large banner covered with even more.
“This week we have been seeing so much community and school support, you can tell he made an impact on so many kids,” said Del Oro football coach Casey Taylor. “The presence today shows that.”
I’m walking because I can and he can’t. He was the best friend I ever had.
Anthony Watson, who was a passenger in Ronny Andrews’ car during the fatal crash.
The Del Oro community raised more than $12,000 in donations for funeral expenses, and Destiny Church provided the venue free. Andrews will be buried during a private ceremony.
After listening to speeches from teammates and Andrews’ mother, Fatima Galindo, attendees watched a slide show of the young man’s short life. Photographs showed Andrews driving his car, walking outside, eating and playing football for the Loomis high school – activities his family and friends say he loved.
Andrews played guard and defensive tackle for the Golden Eagles, which won the CIF State Division II-AA championship in December in a dramatic finish to the season.
After graduation, the Del Oro senior planned to join the U.S. Air Force.
“I would give it all back, everything I’ve made my whole life, to have my son back in his bed,” Galindo said. “To have his smile back, his big arms hugging me, his sweet voice saying “te amo, mami.’ But that is not the reality. The reality is that my son is in a coffin. My love is in a coffin. My hopes and dreams for him are in a coffin.”