Thursday, November 14, 2020 was a morning that triggered a familiar dark uncertainty for Canyon Country residents Alice and Tom Renolds.
Just before their daily morning walk, the couple heard over the television what Santa Clarita Valley families never wanted to hear: There was a fatal shooting at Saugus High.
On campus was their granddaughter Lexi, 15. As some families received a call or text message from their children that they were safe, others did not, including the Renolds family.
Eventually, Alice and Tom saw live news coverage of their granddaughter leaving the school building and communicated with their son Scott, Lexi’s father, about his daughter’s whereabouts. But those moments of not hearing from her at the time revived their worst nightmare.
“It was almost reliving that whole thing again of like us at night not knowing where our sons were and I’m thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, my son’s going through that whole feeling of not knowing where his daughter is and I’m going through that feeling of not knowing where my granddaughter is. Then, all those Saugus High parents having the same feeling we had that night,” said Alice.
Illustrations of Daniel (top) and Timothy Renolds that were killed in a February 2000 car crash, capturing their smiles hangs in the Renold’s home, Monday, Feb. 17, 2020. Gilbert Bernal/The Signal
That night was 20 years ago on Monday when Tom and Alice Renolds lost two of their three children, Timothy, 18, and Daniel, 15, in a car crash on Soledad Canyon Road. The high-speed collision killed the brothers and their friend Nicki Ianozzi. Rodney Adams, 45, also died after the vehicle the teens were in struck his car and went airborne.
Canyon High School student Marcus Lellan, who was the then-18-year-old driver, pleaded guilty to four felony counts of vehicular manslaughter and was sentenced to eight years in state prison. He went on to serve half of his sentence and was deported to Denmark, as he was a Danish citizen. The Renolds, who said they have not spoken with Lellan, believe he eventually returned to the SCV.
On Feb. 17, 2000, Alice remembers that empty, heart-wrenching feeling standing near the crash site as she waited to hear confirmation from law enforcement on whether the passengers in the vehicle were her two sons.
“I just fell down and started screaming that both of our sons were dead,” she said, describing what she did after hearing confirmation.
Years after the tragedy, Alice was unable to revisit family vacation locations where they would travel with Tim and Danny, while Tom preferred to stop by those places. The grieving process for each was different and that’s one message the Renoldses have and continue to share with other families who have experienced loss: There’s no one-size-fits-all to grieving.
Marcus Lellan’s overturned car at the scene of the crash on Soledad Canyon Road near Sand Canyon road on February 17, 2000. Dan Watson/The Signal
“There’s not a rule book,” said Tom. “You can’t tell people how to grieve. For us, it was a long journey, like changing their rooms but keeping all of their trophies.”
Even after 20 years, as parents, that empty feeling still comes and goes but their efforts to help others get to a point where “the pain will ease” continues.
“I used to walk in those (support group) meetings and see all these parents laughing and smiling and I thought, ‘I’m never going to get to that point. I lost two children,’” said Alice. “And I now see other parents walk into our meetings and they say the same thing and now I tell them that they will see a point down the road where it will ease and you just have to be patient and know that you will get there.”
Their unity and strength to continue after losing two children has inspired many, including their close friend Kathleen Brown.
“I’m a bigger person for knowing both of them,” she said. “As a friend, it was hard for me to mention that my kids graduated or got married but Alice is a friend that celebrates my children’s success and wants her children to be remembered even though they didn’t have their graduations and weddings. It’s important for her to share our lives with her and not leave her out of it.”
Hundreds join the Walk of Remembrance as they head for the City of Santa Clarita Youth Grove at Central Park for the Evening of Remembrance event in Saugus on Wednesday. 090716 Dan Watson
Alice and Tom Renolds have also inspired many SCV youths, including their two teen granddaughters who will eventually become drivers, as they continue their decades-long advocacy of safe driving. They helped form the city’s Blue Ribbon Task Force, which helped establish the Santa Clarita Youth Grove, and have impacted future motorists with their story at local high schools for “Every 15 Minutes” programs.
Today, the retired couple, who remain active in the community and travel often, said they are happy to know that traffic-related deaths in the SCV involving minors have decreased over the years — but speeding remains an issue.
Alice, speaking in 2019 at the 14th annual Evening of Remembrance at Central Park, an annual event held to remember local youth who died in traffic-related incidents, implored local drivers: “Please, Santa Clarita teens and adults, slow down.”
The Executive Office of the Board of Supervisors announced the leadership team of the newly formed Probation Oversight Commission who will be tasked to lead efforts to monitor the Probation Department’s progress on systemic reform.
The Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center at College of the Canyons will host a virtual Open House on Wednesday, April 28 to help those interested in advancing their careers by earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
The Los Angeles County Arts Education Collective, coordinated by the Department of Arts and Culture, and KCET have joined forces to create a new documentary that explores the value of arts education for the youth, communities, and creative economy of L.A. County.
The Santa Clarita Valley League of Women Voters, partnering with College of the Canyons Center for Civic Engagement and its Engage the Vote Student Action Team, is sponsoring a virtual, “Conversation with Mayor Bill Miranda,” on Monday, April 19, from 7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Los Angeles County Public Health officials on Wednesday confirmed 57 new deaths and 411 new cases of COVID-19 countywide, as the county prepares to expand vaccination eligibility to residents 16 and older on Thursday.
California public health officials this week lifted capacity limits on in-person services at places of worship from the state's reopening scheme, following a handful of Supreme Court decisions in favor of congregants challenging the state’s COVID-19 capacity limits.
The Santa Clarita City Council on Tuesday night approved one-time funding of $100,000 for the relocation of Bridge to Home shelter services for people experiencing homelessness, and an additional loan not to exceed $110,000.
California Institute of the Arts, or CalArts, is leasing space at Newhall Crossings in Downtown Newhall to put its students’ artwork on display, officials with the Valencia arts college announced recently.
The Santa Clarita City Council unanimously approved Tuesday a Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital expansion plan, following a public hearing with protest from members of a local carpenters union and calls by community members to include a mental health care unit for children.
California Senate Bill 546, a measure to extend the state's "iFoster" cell phones and data program for foster youth, has passed out of the Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee with unanimous support, according to Sen. Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita).
College of the Canyons athletic programs returned to campus this week to begin outdoor team strength and conditioning activities, guided by a stringent return-to-campus procedural plan designed to ensure the health and safety of student-athletes, coaches and support staff.
If you watched NASA’s exciting Mars Perseverance rover landing on Feb. 18, you definitely won’t want to miss the College of the Canyons Canyon Country campus spring 2021 virtual Star Party on Friday, April 23.
%d bloggers like this:
SCVTV Media Center
22505 14th Street Unit E
Santa Clarita, Calif. 91321