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Casie Hyde, 19 -- Car Accident

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A 16-year-old Mira Costa High School student known for her vivacity and kindness was killed instantly when the car she was driving crashed into a power-line pole on Manhattan Beach Boulevard, just blocks away from her house.

Casie Hyde and her 19-year-old boyfriend, Mike Archuletta, were on their way home after a fast-food run when Casie apparently lost control of her BMW just before 11 p.m. Friday, said her mother, Kelli Rigby-Hyde.

"Either she was trying to call me or she had just called me almost at the time that it happened," Rigby-Hyde said Saturday. "My phone rang a few times. I picked it up and I could just hear muffled sounds and moaning."

Casie was pronounced dead at the scene, said Redondo Beach police Sgt. Jim Banach. Archuletta was taken to County Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where he remains in critical condition.

Banach said the cause of the crash is still under investigation. Rain-slicked roadways may have been a factor, and a witness also reported seeing a truck near Casie's car at the time of the crash, he said.

On Saturday, the young couple's friends and family gathered at the scene of the accident in the 2400 block of Manhattan Beach Boulevard, just west of Inglewood Avenue. Flowers, candles, balloons and signs surrounded the pole at the site.

Liana Wilson, Casie's best friend since third grade, said that just hours before the accident Archuletta had given Casie a promise ring, a symbol of commitment to their more than 2-year-long relationship.

"He was her first love," Liana said. "They broke up four or five times over the years, but it was always unconditional love."

Archuletta, a 2004 Mira Costa graduate and star basketball player, attended El Camino College last year and had recently transferred to a community college in Santa Barbara, Liana said.

Friends and relatives described Casie, a junior at the Manhattan Beach school, as outgoing, the "life of the party," a soccer player, a beach lover and a good student who wanted to attend USC and dreamed of becoming a lawyer.

"She was one of those people who always does the right thing -- no matter what happens, no matter if it doesn't make her 'cool,' " Liana said.

Rigby-Hyde said Casie, her only child, was a "creative, very giving person" who volunteered at a clinic for abused children and beach cleanups.

"She was a great kid. A great young woman," she said. "She'll be missed and in our hearts forever. I don't know how we'll ever recover from this loss."

Veronica Mendez, Casie's co-worker at Pancho's restaurant in Manhattan Beach, said they had finished their hostess shift together at 9:30 p.m. Friday, less than two hours before the crash.

"She showed us her ring," Mendez said Saturday, standing by candles and a sign for Casie at the hostess stand. "It was simple -- little diamonds, it looked like. It was really nice."

In recent weeks, Casie had been gearing up to play in Mira Costa's powder-puff football game, scheduled for Wednesday, said Natasha Perazzolo, 16.

"She was so excited -- she would chuck the ball at me," Natasha said. "She wanted to do it so bad. ... She definitely didn't deserve this."



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