Fortuna’s grief likened to Newtown’s

Paul Mann
Mad River Union

HYDESVILLE – At a Saturday afternoon funeral service, Pastor Michael Delamarian III of Hydesville Community Church compared the grief inflicted by the hit-and-run deaths of two teenagers near Fortuna to the misery that engulfed Newtown, Conn. in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre at Christmastime in 2012.

A LIFE CUT SHORT The community is mourning the death of Faith Lorraine Tsarnas.                      Facebook phot

A LIFE CUT SHORT The community is mourning the death of Faith Lorraine Tsarnas. Facebook phot

Delamarian officiated at the 4 p.m. memorial service July 16 for Faith Lorraine Tsarnas, 14, killed in a hit-and-run collision on Eel River Road with another teenager, Kiya Kitchen, at about 9:16 p.m. on July 12. That was two days before the terrorist Bastille Day massacre in Nice on the French Riviera.

The pastor began his homily Saturday with the words, “The death of Faith Lorraine Tsarnas has touched every person here today. Grief and concern go deeper than a person can express.”

He then quoted one of the Newtown massacre’s first responders about the experience of incomprehensible sorrow and its piercing unreality.

“You live with the grief as if in a bubble and only gradually re-enter the world,” the first responder said. “You go to the grocery store, you go back to work. Eventually, that outer world takes over more and more of you and the grief begins to shrink.

“Here in Newtown, we’re a small community ... We can’t get away. It’s like a bell jar has been placed over the town, with all the oxygen pumped out. We can’t breathe for the grief.”

Pastor Delamarian spoke plaintively, “I believe that’s where we are.”

Without deploring who was responsible for the two girls’ violent deaths, he told the congregation – which packed both the sanctuary and the vestibule with families, teenagers, children and the elderly – “Faith’s leaving us [was] so sudden, so unexpected that you may be” feeling a torrent of emotions.

“I am feeling anger and rage!” Delamarian cried out to the mourners abruptly, referring indirectly to how the teenagers were senselessly killed.

Faith Tsarnas and Kiya Kitchen were skateboarding after dusk when they were struck down by a light gray 2015 Jeep Wrangler, according to the California Highway Patrol. Investigators had identified a suspect but had not disclosed the driver’s identity as the Union went to press.

However, courthouse blogger John Chiv reported on July 14 that “more than one source” had identified the suspect as Kiya Kitchen’s mother, Marci Kitchen.

Both Chiv and Kym Kemp, who anchors southern Humboldt’s Redheaded Blackbelt website, reported that Eureka criminal attorney Benjamin Okin had confirmed he is representing Marci Kitchen, although he did not identify his client by name or disclose the client’s gender.

Kemp quoted Okin as saying his information led law enforcement to a search of a Becker Lane home in Fortuna where the Jeep reportedly was found. That location was also reported by the Times-Standard.

A community resident told a reporter it was believed the suspect or other parties had taken several steps to conceal the vehicle at the Becker Lane address.

Nevertheless, Okin was quoted by Kemp as saying his client was ready to be taken into custody. Union attempts to reach Okin by phone were unsuccessful.

CHP investigators said the Jeep Wrangler was southbound on Eel River Drive, south of Kenmar Road, proceeding at an undetermined speed. The driver fled the scene and headed eastbound on Drake Hill Road. The vehicle was located later by the authorities about a mile from the fatal collision, reportedly at the Kitchen residence.

One of the girls was dead at the scene, the other died of unspecified major injuries at Oakland Children’s Hospital at 6:30 the next morning, July 13.

Recounting the Biblical tale of the demise of Jesus’ close friend Lazarus, Pastor Delamarian said Faith Lorraine Tsarnas’s family, friends and loved ones were feeling what Christ felt on the sudden death of his soul mate: “Christ felt the pain, the grief, the anger and the loneliness” of the death of Lazarus.

The teenager’s casket was absent from the church. In the chancel was an easel-mounted portrait, framed in black, of the dead teenager as a little girl. Nine memorial bouquets comprised several floral baskets, a large mounted cross of pink roses embroidered with a pink ribbon and two heart-shaped arrangements, largely white, of carnations and pale yellow roses.

Medleys of crème de la crème roses, orange gerbera daisies, purple lisianthus and lavender-fringed green button poms symbolized a teenager whose character was described by a close family friend, Jeff Beltz, as “spunky, mischievous, tenacious and awful cute – with dimples and big brown eyes.

“She definitely had a mind of her own and was drawn to adults,” he remembered.

Two video monitors displayed dozens of family snapshots of Faith playing the flute and piano, baking in the kitchen, riding a pony and thrashing around with a dolphin.

The 14-year-old is survived by her mother, Stephanie Baldwin, stepfather Mark Baldwin, father Jeff Tsarnas, sister Elizabeth and brother Isaac; and grandparents Floyd and Mitzi Marchi of Eureka and Henry and Billye Tsarnas of Myers Flat.

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