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Lives of 3 boys cut short by joy ride

Wherever Devon was, so too were Daylan and Moses.

The three boys were often seen around their Fontana condominium complex tossing a football or competing against each other in rowdy video games.

So when 15-year-old Devon Keeten grabbed the keys to his mother’s spare car Wednesday and climbed into the silver Nissan Altima, his half-brother, Daylan Green, 9, and best friend and neighbor, Moses Guzman, 11, naturally went along.

Their joy ride ended in tragedy when all three boys were killed while fleeing a California Highway Patrol officer. Devon, an eighth-grader at Wayne Ruble Middle School, lost control of the car while speeding at more than 90 mph, authorities said Thursday, and the vehicle crashed into a Fontana home.

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According to the CHP, Devon was pulled over at 8:55 p.m. on Sierra Avenue near the 210 Freeway for running a red light. As the officer approached the car, it sped away. The officer gave chase. Less than two minutes later, the Altima sped down Alder Avenue, careened out of control at a dip in the road, hit a wall and crashed into Edward and Dolores Pimentel’s house at the corner of Alder and Shamrock Avenue.

“Because of the speed and momentum of the vehicle,” said CHP Officer Joe Ramos, “it struck the brick wall on the outside of the residence, continued through the brick wall, was airborne [when] it struck the roof line of the residence, came off of the roof line into the front portion of the lawn of the residence and ended up on its wheels.”

No one inside the house was injured.

“It was gruesome,” said Dolores Pimentel, 45, who ran outside and saw two bodies. “You don’t want to see that ever.”

The kitchen the couple remodeled last year was littered with shattered glass and broken plaster, and a corner of their roof was splintered above patio chairs that had been smashed. The family was forced to evacuate.

“Everything here can be repaired,” Pimentel said. “But those were young lives that were lost.”

Devon and Moses, who were not wearing seat belts, were ejected from the car. Both were pronounced dead at the scene. Daylan, who was seated in the left rear seat, was taken to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center but died from his injuries soon after.

The mood at Village Lane condos, where Moses used to walk out his front door and over to his friends’ house, was somber. Standing outside her daughter’s home, Lillie Green, 63, told reporters that her grandsons Devon and Daylan had taken the car without permission.

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“It was an accident,” she said softly. Speaking on behalf of her daughter, Lillian, Green said the sadness would stay with them forever.

Lillian Green, 37, had driven a different car to her job as a supervisor at an inventory and retail services company. Pulling a late shift, the single mother had no idea her oldest son, who does not have a driver’s permit, would take himself, Daylan and Moses out in the car.

“She’s just devastated,” said her friend and co-worker Tomeka George, 45. “We’re in shock, total disbelief. She can’t believe it.”

Her voice shaking, George said that the three boys were always together and that Devon was protective of both his friend and brother. She said Devon and Daylan’s mother had recently been marveling over the boys’ report cards, which bore A’s and Bs.

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“They were good boys,” George said. “The reason why the youngest one was in the car with [Devon] was because he always looked out for his little brother. And the other kid in the car with him was his best friend. It was just one of those things -- mom was at work and they took the car and were joy riding in the car like kids do. I guess with the cop car behind him he panicked and took off and one thing led to another.”

CHP authorities said the officer who pursued the car acted properly.

“Before the officer was even able to make contact and fully understand all the occupants in the vehicle, the vehicle fled,” said CHP Capt. Esmeralda Falat. “Our officers do get quarterly trained on pursuit, and this pursuit was within the compliance of the law. This is one of those that was over right as soon as it began. Unfortunately it’s very tragic.”

Students from nearby Wayne Ruble, where Moses was a sixth-grader, and Juniper Elementary School, where Daylan was a fourth-grader, joined dozens of the three boys’ friends and family members Thursday at a vigil between the victims’ homes.

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As the wind whipped through the condo complex’s courtyard, Lillian Green quietly walked over to Moses’ mother and father, who lost the youngest of their four children, and the trio of grieving parents shared an embrace.

Friends have set up a fund to help Devon and Daylan’s family pay for the burials; donations may be sent to the care of Tomeka George, 5015 Galliano Ave., Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91739.

Moses’ family has not requested donations.

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corina.knoll@latimes.com

ruben.vives@latimes.com


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