Family and friends remember Merced teen killed in car crash near Sacramento

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- At a candlelight vigil in Merced, every breath was taken with Riley Hanson in mind.

The 16-year-old El Capitan senior - known to some as Smiley Riley -- died in a car accident Saturday in Sacramento. Her stepfather told us Riley was like his own child.

"She has got this bright smile, she's just incredibly bright and straight-A student," Matthew Escobar said.

Outside of their home, hundreds gathered -- many wearing Riley's favorite color yellow to honor her life. Her color guard members even performing a special dance for the popular teen in front of her driveway.

Riley's sister said the sudden loss has devastated her family, especially their mom who was too emotional to talk.

"She's our mother," Katie Escobar told Action News. "It's very hard on her but I know Riley will always be with her to support her in her heart."

Meantime, Riley's friends are preparing a balloon release during their high school's football game Friday.

And Saturday a fundraiser will take place to raise money for her parents and seven siblings who are struggling with this new reality.
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