A candlelight vigil for Kyle Strang, who died in a car accident in Richmond March 31 was held at the park next to Strang's house on Acton Street and University Avenue last Friday.
Friends and family of both Strang and Prentice Gray, a Berkeley High graduate who was in the passenger seat when the accident happened, gathered in a circle inside the park, sheltering their candles against the cold April winds with their palms. Some leaned against each other, others hugged. A lot of people cried quietly and held hands. Most of Strang's classmates from Berkeley High School showed up, and by 8 p.m., there were more than 200 people at the park. Some of Strang's friends sang his favorite songs. The vigil celebrated the lives of two extraordinary young men who cherished their friendships more than anything else. Strang and Gray were remembered for being good students and dedicated community members,for their warm smiles and generous hugs, for their ability to reach out to anyone at a moment's notice, but most important, for being "true friends."
“Some of us have been coming to Kyle and Prentice's place since we were kids – they were neighbors,” said one Berkeley High graduate as she walked toward the park with her friends. “They spent a lot of time at each other's house.”
The tree-lined neighborhood in West Berkeley where both boys lived with their mothers was quiet Friday night. The front door of Strang's house had been left slightly ajar, to allow the steady stream of visitors who have been dropping by over the last few days to enter.
Berkeley Unified School District spokesperson Mark Coplan said that a lot of members of the Berkeley High community were still finding out about the tragic accident because most of them were away on spring break.
“I spoke with Berkeley High teacher Phil Halpern who is away on vacation, and he told me Kyle had been like a son to him,” Coplan said. “Phil will be back at the school Monday. He's very unhappy he couldn't be at the vigil today.”
Berkeley High teacher Dharini Rasiah, who teaches at Communication Arts & Sciences, the small school Strang belonged to, said she was completely devastated.
"Kyle was completely passionate about everything he did in his life, from his video projects for my class to wanting to live and work in Israel after high school," Rasiah said. "He truly cared about others and wanted the best for everyone. I was always struck by how open and thoughtful he was. He communicated well. Our entire CAS community at Berkeley High is devastated. I will miss him terribly."
Family and friends of Strang attended his funeral Sunday, April 4, at theTemple Emanu-el in San Francisco. Strang's family would like tax-deductible donations, in Strang's name, to be made to his school, Communication Arts and Science (CAS).
Funeral services for Gray was held Wednesday, April 7 at Fouche Hudson's funeral home in North Oakland.