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‘Gone too soon,’ Students mourn Merced teenager killed in Highway 99 crash

Riley Hanson, a 16-year-old El Capitan High student killed Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018 in a crash in the Sacramento area, according to California Highway Patrol.
Riley Hanson, a 16-year-old El Capitan High student killed Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018 in a crash in the Sacramento area, according to California Highway Patrol.

A Merced school was reeling Tuesday following the death of a successful student and member of the color guard squad.

El Capitan High School student Riley Hanson was killed in a crash on Highway 99 over the weekend, according to the Merced Union High School District.

Riley was an involved student with “top grades,” according to Sheryl Garman, the district’s spokesperson. She noted that the young woman was a senior though she was just 16.

“The El Capitan family has suffered an obviously big loss losing Riley,” she said. “Our deepest condolences extend to the El Capitan family as well as Riley’s family and friends.”

The California Highway Patrol said the 16-year-old was a passenger in a multi-car crash on Highway 99 south of Eschinger Road, south of Elk Grove, just before 6 p.m. on Sunday. She suffered major trauma and was taken to Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center, according to CHP.

Students at the high school shared memories of Riley on Twitter with the hashtag #smileyriley.

The El Capitan High School Color Guard tweeted, “We love you Riley, you inspired us each and every day you were with us. Your passion and hard work for this activity was undeniable. Your legacy will forever be remembered. #SmileyRiley.”

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