Mixed emotions at memorial

(Kent Treptow)

Editor’s note: This corrects the quote beginning with “There is a misconception.”

FOUNTAIN VALLEY — The song, “I will remember you,” by Sarah McLachlan softly played, as some people gazed at photos and collages of the late Julie Allen that were propped on easels at Fountain Valley High School.

About 100 people gathered at the bowl area Saturday afternoon to celebrate the life of the girl who they said made everyone feel special. Some cried and others smiled while reminiscing.

John Allen, Julie’s father, saw the memorial as a time to deliver a statement as he tried to make sense of his daughter’s death.

Julie Allen, a former Corona del Mar High standout distance runner, died Jan. 15 after her car drove well past the speed limit on West Coast Highway, police said. An investigation is ongoing in the fatal 10-car accident that also took the lives of two others when the 27-year-old Allen sped into oncoming traffic.

“I realize that we are all here to express our love and share remembrance of Julie,” John Allen said to family and friends. “But first I want to say we may never know what went on with Julie in those last moments.”

John Allen revealed his daughter was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in August of 2002, though several people at the memorial already knew. John Allen called it “the challenges Julie faced during the last years of her life.”

He said she had been under the care of psychiatric professionals since the diagnosis. She was also on medication and “had taken her daily medicine in the same disciplined manner she trained for running.”

John Allen also reminded everyone his daughter was raised in the Christian Science religion.

“There is a misconception among some that the Christian Science religion forbids the use of medicine,” he said. “The specifics of Julie’s challenges were not widely known, but she was loved and welcomed in our church, and she felt no pressure from the church or its members to change the personal decisions she was making for her medical treatment.”

The Los Angles Times reported that Newport Beach police had a theory that a stuck accelerator pedal might have caused the crash.

"… That had to with another car and did not involve Julie,” John Allen said, also alluding to his wife, Leslee, posting an incident of an accelerator malfunction on her website.

John Allen said his daughter was a good driver and never drove in a manner that police have said.

”... The only explanation that I can come up with was that she was under some bipolar delusion,” John Allen said.

There were no other theories given. Most just wanted to talk about Julie Allen’s positive attitude and infectious smile. Those who spoke attempted to calm their shaky voices and hold back their tears as they delivered memories and messages to Julie Allen.

One friend, Marc B, sang.

“Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on,” he offered, as he sang the Beatles tune. He was ending a song he wrote with familiar lyrics. In the same chords, he sang, “For Julie.”

The chorus: “Julie, we want to share our happiness because we know you wanted it to be this way.”

Julie Allen’s friends, like Kevin Edmunds, did their best to make the event a celebration. Edmunds had known Julie Allen since they were children. He directed the order of the ceremony. He began with a moment of silence to honor Julie Allen, as well as Christopher De La Cruz and Linda Burnett, who also died in the crash.

Julie Allen attended Fountain Valley High School until her junior year, when she transferred to Corona del Mar before the spring. She was a CIF section champion in two events in track and field for CdM as a senior. She was also a cross-country star, finishing second in the state in her division.

She graduated in 2002 and earned a full-ride scholarship to Stanford. Her bipolar disorder diagnosis delayed her entry to Stanford, but she went there after a year away. She competed at Stanford and eventually graduated before moving back to Newport Beach.

She had always kept in contact with CdM Coach Bill Sumner, who attended the memorial and spoke. She was running for Sumner’s Cal Coast club.

“Julie, I want to tell you, we will always miss you,” he said as he wept.