A row of vehicles with blinking red and yellow hazard lights formed a path along River Watch Parkway to the spot where a Martinez teen lost his life a year ago.
More than 30 friends and family remembered Brandon Keith Layton with a candlelight vigil Saturday night - the one-year anniversary of his death. They gathered at the spot near the intersection of Fury's Ferry Road where Brandon died in a tragic car accident.
The wreck continues to haunt those who loved him.
"Every day I wake up and ask God, 'Why am I still here?"' Brandon's mother, Kathy Layton, said while holding a red candle at the roadside memorial service.
"No parent should have to bury a child," she said. "It's been a very difficult year not being able to see him graduate, live his life and be happy."
Brandon, 18, was a JROTC member at Lakeside High School. He was part of the club's award-winning drill team, color guard and Raider Challenge. The senior was a bass player in the band Shell and a part-time employee of Evans 14 Theaters.
Several of his classmates braved the night chill and adorned the spot of his accident with wreaths, flowers and candles.
"I'm not sure I'll ever be able to cope with this," Brandon's 18-year-old best friend, Jonathan Karreis, said. "I try not to think about it, but I still find myself driving by this spot a couple of times a day."
Brandon died Feb. 28, 2003, when Dr. Mohammad Ali Behzadian drove his Toyota Camry the wrong way on River Watch Parkway into the path of Brandon's Toyota MR2, police said.
Last April, a blood alcohol report showed that Behzadian was not legally intoxicated, but he was charged with misdemeanor second-degree vehicular homicide.
The wreck was the fourth in a series of tragic accidents that claimed the lives of several Columbia County students last year.
Because of the accident, Ms. Layton finds herself stuck in a sort of limbo that prevents her from moving past Brandon's death.
"We celebrated his birthday at his grave this year," she said. "Everyone keeps telling me things will be better with time, but I don't believe that."
"His room is still the same as he left it. His clothes are still in the closet and drawers, just like they were a year ago. I'll never get over this."
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