Maria Carrillo student killed in crash remembered as a loving daughter, warm friend

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The last time Bill Sorg saw his daughter alive was when he dropped her off at a best friend’s house on Sunday afternoon for a routine sleepover.

He had picked up Taylor, 16, and one of her friends and fellow classmate, Kaitlyn Tyndall, at a theater in town after they watched “Toy Story 4.” He drove the pair to Tyndall’s home in Santa Rosa and said goodbye.

The two friends were so close they were like sisters, he said. Just days before Tyndall had accompanied the Sorgs on a vacation to Disneyland. They planned to spend much of this summer before their junior year at Maria Carrillo High School together. Even during the school year, sleepovers were commonplace.

So Bill and his wife, Tracy Sorg, Taylor’s mom, went to bed that evening believing Taylor was safe at Tyndall’s home. But hours later, about 12:30 a.m., Bill awoke to a phone call from police. An officer told him that his daughter and Tyndall, along with another teen who was the driver, had been in a car accident in the Fountaingrove neighborhood. Taylor and Tyndall had been taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, the officer said.

Bill and Tracy rushed to the hospital, where Taylor died from her injuries early Monday. The parents, joined by Tyndall’s family and friends of their daughters, sat together in the hospital, holding hands and crying.

“She is my only daughter, my girl,” Bill Sorg said. “Those beautiful blue eyes and that great smile ... I just feel so shocked over this.”

Tyndall, 16, remains hospitalized in the intensive care ward, with major injuries that she is expected to survive.

The Sorgs said they did not know well the 16- year-old driver involved in the crash, who was uninjured. She has been arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter.

On Tuesday, Bill and Tracy Sorg spoke about Taylor, the youngest of their two children; their son, Jordan, is 19. Their daughter was an accomplished athlete, avid community volunteer and positive force among her close group of friends and teammates, they said.

She was an up-and-coming pitcher on the softball squad at Maria Carrillo, a southpaw with a strong arm who stood just over 5 feet and sped around the diamond to the amazement of her coaches.

She also loved fashion and had become known as the go-to for friends who wanted their makeup and eyebrows done up, her mom and friends said. She had an ability to make others feel optimistic, and her silliness — cracking jokes amid selfies — made her fast friends with many.

“She loved makeup so much that she almost broke the bank for me when it came to buying her the latest contouring trend,” Tracy said. “When she was little she drew these phenomenal sketches and was always on the move meeting new friends.”

She loved the color purple and going to the beach. She volunteered for groups serving kids with Down Syndrome. Her favorite movie was “50 First Dates,” a rom-com starring Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler.

Friends and coaches from softball and other childhood buddies recalled Tuesday their shared time with Taylor, and what it meant to them that they would not see her smile again.

David Lee, a coach of Taylor’s during her first years playing softball, remembers meeting the eager 8-year-old when she tried out for his team, the Rugrats. What initially excited Lee was that she was left-handed, a rarity in the sport that meant she could pitch a ball that would confound batters, he said.

“Every time I would call her in to pitch she would have the biggest smile on her face and she was always ready to go,” Lee said. “By the time she was 10 she was a top pitcher in the league.”

Emilee Woods, 15, grew up playing softball with Taylor and said a few of her favorite memories are those outside the sport, including riding roller coasters with her at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo.

“We would go to concerts together and every time we hung out she would bring out the best in me,” said Woods, a junior at Cardinal Newman High School. “She was more of my sister than a best friend.”

Tim Woods, Emilee’s father, coached Taylor when she was younger and said her goofiness was hard to forget.

“She was just really happy dancing around and was a joy to be around because she lit up the room with all of her infectious happiness,” Woods said. “She was like a daughter to me.”

Taylor went on to pitch for Maria Carrillo’s junior varsity team and for her club team, called Williams Syndrome Crew, or WSC — named after a genetic condition that can lead to cardiovascular disease and learning challenges. She and teammates devoted time to raising awareness about the condition.

Bill Sorg said every Sunday he and his daughter would work together on her pitching.

“When she was growing up and I would come home from work (and) no matter how tired I was, she would drag me outside to go pitch with her,” Bill said. “Everyone was always amazed at how much power she had for being so tiny and it was her speed that truly set her apart.”

Taylor also loved to cook, and her family’s traditional Filipino dishes were passed down to her from her grandfather, who died in September.

“The one thing he made sure Taylor knew how to cook was Filipino-style chicken adobo,” Tracy Sorg said.

Their phone calls always ended with a warm “I love you,” she said.

Those were the last words they exchanged on Sunday, after having their nails done and sharing a sushi lunch.

“Before she left for the movies I told her I loved her, and she said she loved me more,” she said. “And that was the last I heard from her.”

The family has been overwhelmed by what they described as an outpouring of love and support, including a vigil organized by friends Monday night at the crash site.

It was heartening and humbling to see how many people loved their daughter.

“She was just a very caring person and touched so many lives,” Tracy Sorg said. “She was loyal and always put others first. We will miss her so much.”

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