A memorial vigil was held Saturday before a soccer game in San Juan Capistrano for two teammates and three other teens who were killed Oct. 4 in an Irvine crash.
Alejandro Sotelo, 14, and Matthew Ivan Melo, 15, played for the American Youth Soccer Organization team that took the field for the first time since the fiery single-car crash that also claimed the lives of fellow passengers Jennifer Bahena, 14, Jennifer Campos, 15, and Brandon Alejandro Moreno, 14.
The lone survivor of the incident, the vehicle's unlicensed driver, remained hospitalized Saturday.
Teammates of Alejandro and Matthew wore T-shirts that bore a photo of the two teens in their soccer uniforms, the words "Rest in Paradise" and the date of their untimely deaths. In a pre-game ceremony, the boys' jerseys were placed on the field at the positions they would have played.
"This was not only for the boys' families, for the coach and for our team but it was for the community, too, to kind of put everything back together for us," said team mom and manager Kimberly Harden.
The young men were among the six occupants of a four-door BMW sedan that last week veered off the 5 Freeway, struck a guardrail, went up an embankment and burst into flames. The five passengers were pronounced dead at the scene. The group had been returning from Knott's Scary Farm in Buena Park at the time of the crash.
Matthew's cousin, Jason Melo, described Saturday's vigil as "awesome" and "overwhelming."
"It's definitely very emotional for all the families," he said.
The AYSO's Region 87 has organized several fundraisers — including two bake sales, a raffle and car wash — to help the Melo and Sotelo families, according to ayso87.org. Information and links to memorial fundraisers for the five deceased victims are also available on the website.