More than 3,000 community members joined together by candlelight Monday evening to remember the four victims of Friday night’s fatal accident.
Students, UCSB personnel and residents, many holding candles and flowers, gathered at the candlelight vigil on the 6500 block of Sabado Tarde Road where the accident occurred.
“Christopher Divis, Nick Bourdakis, Ruth Levy, Elie Isreal – what do we do when we face death? We all do it a little differently. Go apart for a while – quiet with your thoughts and emotions. Gather together. Remember. Tell stories,” St. Mark’s Church’s Father Paul Rospond said to the crowd. “Our period of mourning has really just begun. We can’t take all this in just two or three days. It’s just too much. … Tonight we gather to stand in the dark, in silence, holding up a candle to the darkness. All of us bring something: a tear, a memory, a deep sigh, anger, hope, fear. We each need to do that in the silence of our hearts. It is good that we do it together. In solidarity, there is hope.”
Mourners gathered around impromptu memorials set up along the street to listen to Rospond and senior history major Ariana Katovitch speak, and to stand in silent reflection together.
“I want to say to the families and friends of the deceased that you have my deepest empathy and compassion and that you are in the thoughts and hearts of this community,” Katovitch said. “We need to create a safe, tolerant and caring community for each other – to reach out to those who have lost hope and to those who need help. In your lives, work to create community with your hands, hearts, minds, smiles and compassion.”
Many students said they did not know the victims, but wanted to show their support for the friends and families of the victims.
“I just came to share my condolences for all the families and share the kinds of feelings that are going through Isla Vista at this moment,” said Jordan Barbakaw, a junior business economics and Spanish major. “I think the community is trying to act in a very positive way. I think that this has turned heads and made us realize that these streets should be safer.”
Francisco Espinoza, a senior Latin American studies major, said he was impressed by the solidarity the I.V. community has shown since Friday.
“Personally I’m here because obviously this is something that affects everyone, regardless of where they live – here or miles away. Being in the UCSB community, it’s tough on everyone,” he said. “It really makes me feel good that so many people came and showed their love and respect for the folks in the community. I don’t think half of the people out here knew the victims personally, but it really hits home.”
Sophomore dance and English major Melinda Perlo said the entire community was effected by the accident.
“Although we don’t personally know the victims, I think it’s important to come together and show support for those who did. We are all connected in this community,” she said.
Rospond encouraged the crowd to seek out friends, counselors, priests, rabbis and other “wisdom figures” to talk to.
“You surely will talk with friends in the weeks to come about what happened. You may need to look at some issues of faith, maybe ask your God ‘how could this happen?’ – maybe consider your own final destiny. Questions of life and death are a mystery. At every stage of life we need to take another look, go deeper, seek wisdom,” he said. “It’s important to honor the dead and also to honor the living. After a time of mourning, we return to a daily life – hopefully with a little more compassion – for there’s a lot of feeling in a heartfelt, ‘I understand.’ ”
The university will hold a vigil in Storke Tower on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. Counselors are available on campus at the Career and Counseling Center, or can be reached 24 hours a day on Santa Barbara County’s Helpline at 800-400-1572.