The memory of a 2-year-old curly-haired girl was buoyed by candlelight that glowed through umbrellas as people gathered Sunday night, despite the rain, to stand vigil at a Rohnert Park intersection where she died.
A family friend told the group that Calli Murray, who would have turned 3 on Christmas Day, was already as smart as a kindergartner. Peter Qu, a pastor at Rohnert Park Chinese Christian Church, said a prayer in Mandarin, the native language of the bilingual child's mother.
Calli was killed Wednesday when she and her mother, Ling Murray, were struck by a car in the crosswalk at Snyder Lane and Medical Center Drive.
Ling Murray, 40, opened her eyes Sunday for the first time since the accident, her step-father-in-law, Al Andres of Hartley, Del. told more than 50 family members, friends and strangers who showed up at 7:30 p.m. despite the persistent drizzle.
The Rohnert Park mother remains in a medically-induced coma and will undergo multiple surgeries for broken bones and other injuries, he said. Ling Murray's husband, Jeff Murray, was at her side Sunday at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital and would light a candle for Calli's memory as well, Andres said.
"Ling knows that Calli didn't make it. I have to tell you, when we told her, her wish at that time was that she'd go with Calli," Andres said. "We need to love and hug each other. I hope you'll say to your parents and your children that you love them tonight."
The group then stood in near silence as the sound of cars whooshed by in the rain.
The Murrays had been playing at the park when they began to return home and began walking, hand-in-hand, into the crosswalk, Rohnert Park Public Safety Department officials said.
Driver Kaitlyn Dunaway, an 18-year-old freshman at Sonoma State University, was heading south on Snyder Lane and didn't stop at the crosswalk, striking the mother and daughter.
Police said Friday that they were still investigating the accident.
Sunday's vigil was the idea of a 16-year-old Phoenix High School junior, Haley Vivenzi, whose brother was recently killed by a sheriff's deputy in a shooting. Vivenzi said she wanted to do something for Calli Murray's family, started a Facebook page and word of the vigil spread.
Friends of Ling Murray's 14-year-old son, Tian Tian Li, who goes by Corey, showed up in groups. Teammates on his freshman basketball team wore their jerseys.
Parents and players on Rancho Cotate High School's basketball team brought candles with small cups for people to hold. A Christian leader at the school spoke. Others brought extra umbrellas and someone placed a tent above the shrine to keep it dry.
The efforts brought Ling's mother, Cho Li, 65, of Santa Clara, to tears.
"The love and support from the community is helping us go forward," she said in Mandarin, translated by Ling Murray's friend, Kathy Kundla, 62, of Rohnert Park. "That support will help Ling get better."
"It means the world to us. I miss my little Boo," Ling Murray's mother-in-law, Kay Carrera, 68, of Hartley, Del., said about her granddaughter.
The group continued to grow, spilling out around a shrine of stuffed animals, flowers and candles placed below a sign for Sunrise Park near the Snyder Lane crosswalk where the crash occurred. Green police paint still lingered where police officers marked evidence from the crash.