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Brittany Curcio, 15 -- Car Accident

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RANCHO BERNARDO – Brittany Curcio's mom kissed her good night late Saturday and admonished her daughter to turn in soon, because they had an early morning church service to attend the next day.

Her friends say Brittany Curcio's bubbly friendliness will be missed on campus.

Brittany, 15, had a friend sleeping over, and the two girls were watching a movie. It was the end of spring break for the Rancho Bernardo High School sophomore. She had spent vacation week doing the usual – a day at the beach, trips to Disneyland and Sea World. And she called a friend to chat about whom she had seen at the mall and to tell her she was getting her ears pierced for the second time.

Brittany and her friend were watching TV late Saturday when Brittany's mother, Starlene Mumma, went to bed. "I told them to go to bed. . . . I told them to go to bed," Mumma said softly. That was the last conversation Mumma had with her oldest daughter.

A few hours later, Brittany died after sneaking out of the house and taking her mother's car. Brittany was killed when she was thrown from the car after crashing into a light pole on Bernardo Center Drive near Cayenne Ridge Road, not far from her home.

"It was so unlike her to do something that dangerous," Mumma said. Brittany was a typical teen who loved shopping, instant messaging and hanging out with friends. She was passionate about cheerleading and was excited about driving. She didn't have a driver's permit but had recently received her first behind-the-wheel lesson.

According to Brittany's family and friends, Brittany and her friend left the house and drove to the friend's house, where the other girl took her sister's car. It was unclear where Brittany was going when she crashed. The friend followed Brittany in the second car and came upon the accident. Brittany, who was not wearing a seat belt, was thrown from the car and died at the scene.

California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Gregg said Brittany was driving on a rain-slicked road when she lost control of the car and struck the light pole.

Several teens said it isn't uncommon for unlicensed teenage drivers to sneak out in the middle of the night and take family cars out for joy rides.

"It's just something that we do," said Pedram Farjad, 16, one of Brittany's friends. "Teenagers make stupid mistakes. A car equals freedom. . . . Teenagers just want to grow up faster.

"A lot of people, including myself, have done stupid things," Pedram said. "Losing Brittany is a reality check. It could happen to anyone."

Kurt Trecker, one of Brittany's teachers, said he has been warning his students of the dangers of unlicensed driving for three years.

Trecker tells each class the story of a former student who was in a car crash and spent about seven weeks in the hospital. "He wasn't particularly religious, but when he woke up (from a coma) he said God had a plan for him," Trecker said. The student eventually graduated from a military academy.

At the place where Brittany died, a memorial has been erected on the side of the road. A small stuffed bear with a halo and angel wings sits amid flowers, messages and other mementos. A California All-Stars T-shirt and a team photo of the cheerleading squad are displayed.

Students set up another memorial with flowers and chalk messages in a quad area at Rancho Bernardo High School, where Brittany's friends are encouraging everyone to wear pink tomorrow to fill the campus with her favorite color.

Trecker, Pedram and Brittany's good friend Jill Bargabus, 16, said Brittany's bubbly friendliness will be missed on campus. "She always had a smile on her face. She was very real and always complimented people," Jill said. "She was never hurtful or mean."

Besides her mother, Brittany is survived by her father, Anthony Curcio of Escondido; sisters, Baylee and Giavanna of Rancho Bernardo; and brothers, Cameron and Geoffrey of Escondido



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