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Friends, Family Look For Lessons At Vigil For Girl Killed In Crash

They came in search of something good from an accident that was so bad.

More than 100 family members, friends and neighbors of 16-year-old Anna Sherman gathered Saturday night for a candlelight vigil at the scene of the accident that took her life.

Teary-eyed speakers young and old challenged Sherman’s friends and classmates to learn from the accident, urging them not to drink and drive.

Sherman was killed last Thursday when the Ford Bronco in which she was riding rolled and crushed her. She was partially ejected from the vehicle during the crash. The one-car crash happened just two blocks from her Northwood Drive home.

State troopers who investigated the accident said the teenagers in the Bronco, including driver Anthony R. Lazanis, had been drinking.

Lazanis, 19, is being held in the Spokane County Jail. He is charged with vehicular homicide, vehicular assault and hit and run. Bail was set Monday at $100,000.

Funeral services for Sherman, who started the school year as a junior at West Valley High School, then transferred to the school district’s contract-based education program, were held Wednesday afternoon.

Saturday night, a floral wreath, long stem roses, a collage of photographs and signs with colorful messages for Sherman blanketed the crash site.

Dozens wept softly as Sherman’s father, Timothy, a pastor at Eagle’s Nest Ministries in the Valley, led the group in a prayer. Tears flowed even more freely while the group joined voices to sing “Amazing Grace.”

Several remembered how Sherman, the youngest of seven brothers and sisters, used to light up a room. Many talked about her sense of humor.

Seventeen-year-old Christa Sherman remembered both the laughs and long talks she and her younger sister shared. Christa fondly recalled how Anna would comfort her when she was grounded.

“Just remember Anna with a smile,” Christa Sherman said. “She was my best friend. She was always there for me.”

Her classmates also talked about the joy that Anna Sherman brought to their lives. Most grinned while a West Valley girl talked about hearing her sing for the first time.

“She was up there singing her heart out,” the girl said.

Another girl encouraged teenagers to learn from the tragedy.

“I hope that people learn from this because people that age should not die,” she said, caressing a white candle in a pop can. “I just hope that people don’t just think this is a sad thing and move on. I hope this stays with everybody.”

Sherman’s brother-in-law, Dan Sexauer, asked the group: “What choice are you going to make that you want to be remembered by?” Timothy Sherman said his youngest child made two bad choices: getting in a car with a driver who had been drinking and not wearing her seatbelt.

He asked others not to be angry with Lazanis.

“That young man is confused and hurting,” Timothy Sherman said. “We as a family have forgiven him.”

Forgive, Anna Sherman’s father told the gathering, but don’t forget.

, DataTimes