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Tributes paid to Stamm

Hundreds attend funeral of Huntington Beach girl run over as she crossed Pacific Coast Highway.

October 04, 2006|By Kelly Strodl

Stacy Stamm made her way to the podium in the arms of her husband, Chris. Between sobs, Stacy attempted to tell hundreds attending her daughter's funeral just how much the family had lost the night 16-year-old Heather Stamm died.

"She always wanted to become a star, and now her wish came true," Stacy said.

On Saturday, family and friends gathered at the First Christian Church in Huntington Beach for a memorial service honoring the girl who loved chocolate, always looked after her younger sister Kelseyand hoped one day to become a singer or an actress.

Heather and her boyfriend Nathan Koontz, 19, were hit by a Jeep while trying to cross Pacific Coast Highway at at 6th Street.

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The driver, Chris Hulett, 27, of Newport Beach struck the two, police said. The investigation is still open and no charges have been filed, police said.

Koontz survived with multiple injuries, including a broken pelvis, arm and two sprained ankles. Unable to walk to the podium, Nathan made a statement from his wheelchair at the back of the auditorium.

"I'd rather be doing nothing with you than something with anyone else," Koontz said in a letter to Heather.

He was determined to get released before Saturday, father Jerry Koontz said.

Heather's death was one of several along the stretch of coastal highway.

On Aug. 24, Candace Tift was struck by a car and killed while riding her bike along West Coast Highway in Newport Beach.

Tift, a teacher at Eastbluff Elementary school, was riding on the sidewalk when Irvine resident Janene Johns, 52, veered off the road.

Police say Johns was under the influence of prescription drugs at the time, but no charges have been filed.

The accident, although unusual, reinforces the need for increased caution on the road, Newport Beach Police Sgt. Bill Hartford said.

Don't speed, obey the traffic laws, don't drink and drive, and stay aware of how prescription medicine can impair driving, Hartford said.

Huntington Beach City Council Member Gil Coerper said he considers the highway safe to walk along.

"Being a police officer, I have investigated many problems on PCH, many people make mistakes making turns," Coerper said. "They get impatient."

"I feel sorry for the parents, and the family," Coerper said. "Even one loss on the highway is too much."

"My heart has been ripped from my chest," Chris Stamm said.

"Maybe something good will come of this. Hopefully they make the road safer for people."

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QUESTION

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