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Memorial unveiled for Danielle
On any given day, students gather at a spot on the north side of Smyrna Park made into a memorial for Danielle Tarancon, the 13-year-old Mae Hensley Junior High School student who was killed on Feb. 9. On Friday the city installed an approved marker that gives the memorial more permanence.

The plaque reads: "Danielle Marie Tarancon / April 4, 1997 / February 9, 2011 / Always Remembered / Never Forgotten." Approximately 20 friends and family members watched Danielle's mother, Adria Kuharski, peel back the plastic protective covering to see it for the first time.

"It's the first headstone I've seen with her name on it," said Kuharski. "It's beautiful and I'm glad it's here but I'm just sad ... doesn't bring her back."

Danielle's remains were cremated and the family plans to buy a plot at Lakewood Memorial Park for a resting place. The family feels like it will be another place to draw close to her.

"I come down here every day to feel closer to her," said Danielle's grandmother, Trinidad Tarancon of Ceres.

She said it was hard to remove the accumulation of teddy bears, flowers, notes and candles left at the site in order to let the city prepare the ground at the base of the metal light pole that stood witness over the carnage of that morning. Danielle and friends were walking on the north side of Fowler Road to school that morning, across Darwin Avenue when they were struck by a raised pickup that blew through a stop sign. Danielle was killed instantly while Nancy Zavala and Jessica Garcia sustained serious injuries under the wheels of the truck.

Danielle's grandmother said the family finds it very hard to attend court proceedings of Larry Dale Duke, 46, of Ceres, who is being prosecuted with charges of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. At the time of his accident Duke was driving on a revoked license and had been in a prior accident in which others were seriously injured.

"Hopefully he goes to prison," said Tarancon.

Duke's next court appearance will be in three weeks.

"What I hope happens and what will happen are different things," said Kuharski. "I'd like him to spend the rest of his life in jail. He took my daughter. But it's all up in the air."

Tarancon said her third of 11 grandchildren was a loving girl who enjoyed getting her nails done together. "We watched movies together. She liked the horror movies. She liked scary things. She liked Twilight. It was one of her favorites."

The city approved the plaque while members of the city of Ceres Employees Action Committee (EAC) spent $100 on the plaque.