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Arcenio Kenneth Spann, 17 -- Car Accident

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Arcenio Kenneth Spann was respectful to all. He loved to laugh. He loved the idea of becoming a Marine.

"He was a star," said Chief Master Sgt. Philip Sanborn, a teacher at Sacramento's Hiram Johnson High School where Spann was a senior.

Spann had just signed up to join the military. But on Saturday the 17-year-old student died in a car crash on South Watt Avenue and Jackson Road.

Authorities say the accident happened around midnight when the driver of a black 2002 Honda Accord lost control of the vehicle, veered off the roadway and slammed into three trees.

The impact sheared off the rear passenger side of the car, where Spann was sitting. He was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown from the vehicle, said California Highway Patrol Officer Bernie Pico.

Spann died at the scene. Four other students in the car sustained minor injuries, Pico said. They were back in school by Tuesday, said Cheri Silva, whose son was in the car.

Pico said the other passengers were wearing seat belts. He said drugs and alcohol do not appear to have played a role in the crash.

"It sounds more like lack of experience and (excessive) speed," he said.

At Hiram Johnson this week, students have been raising money to help the Spann family pay for a funeral. And they've been sharing memories of the friend who liked eating at Denny's, fixing up old cars and organizing last-minute football games for his pals.

"He had that charm," said Jaime Ruegsa, 17. "He could get almost anybody to do something for him."

Alvin Nguyen said Spann would frequently come to his house late at night and honk the car horn to see if Nguyen could hang out.

"I miss him making a lot of racket outside when I'm trying to sleep," Nguyen said.

Spann was active in Hiram Johnson's Junior ROTC and took on many leadership positions, said Senior Master Sgt. Jim Rost, a teacher.

"He was perfect in his uniform. He wore it really well. He was a kid who was ahead of his years," Rost said.

Spann earned several Junior ROTC medals and was in the school's color guard, Rost said.

He enjoyed recruiting new students at middle schools and conducting anti-drug presentations at elementary schools, said Sanborn.

"He had just signed on the dotted line to go into the Marines," Sanborn said.

Friends have created a Web site to memorialize Spann - - and organized events to raise money for funeral costs.

The Plantation restaurant, 1454 Del Paso Blvd., will donate $5 to the family from each meal served today when patrons request a donation in honor of Spann. And friends will hold a car wash Saturday outside Round Table Pizza on Stockton and Fruitridge.

Spann is survived by his mother, Bastana Spann, his sister, Antoya Spann, and brothers Andre Curtis and Aaron Spann.

Aaron Spann is stationed in Spain with the Navy. He flew home upon news of his brother's death.

"He was a very motivated person," Aaron said of Arcenio. "He had a lot of friends."



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