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Northridge : Wreath Reappears at Site of Fatal Accident

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The wreath surfaces every year around this time, peeking out from the intersection of Tampa Avenue and the Simi Valley Freeway.

It is a memorial to a teen-age girl cut down before having the chance to smell the fresh paint in her first college dorm room or live out the dreams of adulthood.

Simple, yet picturesque, the wreath consists of a white foam heart smothered by wilted red carnations and flowing red ribbons. A sturdy green easel holds the heart in place, standing strong and fighting off the light breeze that could knock down this silent, but determined memorial to former Alemany High School student Stephanie A. Carieri.

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For the last four years, the wreath has served as a public reminder that a blossoming young life was lost here.

Family members have scribbled these words on a handwritten sign below the wreath: “On June 24, 1991, you gave your last breath on this site . . . [a driver] took your life away from you and away from us . . . the law did nothing . . . perhaps the Lord will render justice . . . “ Carieri, a polite young girl who Alemany bookstore director Joann Schnelldorfer described as “very independent” with strong beliefs, was only 17.

“She was a lovely girl,” Schnelldorfer said. “And if she believed in something, she believed in it with her whole heart.”

The dark-haired teen-ager had graduated from high school a few weeks earlier and was headed to college later that summer when her car was broadsided as she turned off the eastbound side of the Simi Valley Freeway in Northridge. The 17-year-old driver of the other car was uninjured in the accident.

As thousands of cars speed by, some drivers and passengers stick their heads out of windows, glancing quickly at a memorial that many commuters have come to expect. To them it may only be a floral collage, but for family and friends, the wreath keeps alive the memory of their friend and relative, Stephanie.

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