Mourners gathered at a vigil in Palmdale Monday night to honor the lives of a Palmdale father and daughter who died over the weekend in a high-speed car crash.
The single-vehicle incident involving Manuel and Vanessa Paniagua's yellow Camaro was reported around 6:20 p.m. Sunday on 25th Street East near Joshua Hills Drive, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Sgt. Oscar Martinez.
The 2014 Chevy appeared to be traveling at a high rate of speed before striking a pole and may have been racing another vehicle, Martinez said, though investigators have yet to officially determine a cause. The car hit the pole with such force that it broke in two, authorities said.
Family and friends gathered at the site Monday to pay their respects, marking the spot with candles and flowers. The Paniaguas had been on their way home from dinner when the crash occurred, family said.
Yanira Aviles, who attended Palmdale High School with 17-year-old Vanessa, said it was a shocking tragedy.
"I can’t believe she’s gone, you know?" Aviles told KTLA. "It hurts, to see that she’s gone."
Friend Jennifer Villarruel remembered Vanessa's warm and lively presence.
"She would make other people laugh, because her laugh was just catchy," she said. "I just can’t believe this happened."
Manuel was 54, according to the coroner. Villarruel said relatives were struggling to cope with the loss of the family patriarch and little sister.
"They’re trying to be strong, but I can tell it’s hard for them to lose their dad and their sister," she said."
Sonia Martin, who has lived next to Manuel and his family for about 10 years, said the loss would leave a hole in the neighborhood.
"I’m going to miss them a lot," she said. "They were like my family."
Manuel's other daughter and Vanessa's older sister, Priscilla Molina, shared a heartfelt remembrance on Facebook. "You had your whole life ahead of you baby girl," she wrote to her sister, while telling her dad, "We can't thank you enough dad we are going to miss you so much."
The family set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for a funeral, and the campaign surpassed its $3,000-goal on Monday.