"It is with heavy, heavy hearts that we come here today, not with a lot of answers, just a lot of hurt," Pastor Rich Cundall said.
With those words a memorial for 14-year-old Marcus Johnson began at the Santa Rosa Bible Church. Marcus' life was chronicled on the church's stage from infancy through basketball to a teenage go-cart champion racer.
Portraits of him with his family indicate a loving and supportive relationship. His short life touched hundreds. More than 1,200 people from family, to friends, to fellow go-cart and sprint racers gathered at the church to honor and celebrate his life.
His mother, Gina Johnson, was deeply touched, "I'm overwhelmed by the number of people that are here," she said. "He would be overwhelmed. I think he would say, 'wow, cool.'"
Marcus was killed March 16 when a sprint car driven by his 17-year-old cousin Chase Johnson malfunctioned during a practice lap at the Marysville Raceway Park. The car veered off the track, killing Marcus and 68-year-old Grass Valley resident Dale Wondergem.
Tears flowed freely at the memorial, especially when his mother mentioned taking him to school each day.
"It's going to be really hard not taking him to school and picking up every day," Gina said. "Really hard, I'm certain every morning that when I pass Middle Rincon Road I'll have tears in my eyes."
His teacher choked up trying to talk about Marcus's behavior. And a young female friend of his broke down in tears while singing a song titled, "I never told you," dedicated to Marcus.
A memorial fund has been started for Marcus Johnson. And because the teen liked to help students less fortunate than he, some of the proceeds will go to help students pay for both school and athletic gear.
Donations may be made to the fund at First Community Bank, 438 First St., Santa Rosa.