Dressed in pink and black, hundreds of people packed a Pleasant Hill church this morning to remember a 14-year-old girl who was tragically struck and killed by a train in Martinez earlier this week.
Hundreds of friends, Martinez Junior High School classmates and family members of Jenna Betti found a spot wherever they could inside the Christ the King Chuch this morning.
Colorful pink and white bouquets and wreaths decorated the church, as well as posters covered with photos of the teen scrawled with messages from her friends.
The Rev. Brian Joyce told mourners at today’s funeral that while the eighth-grader’s death was “too soon and too tragic,” she made a lasting impact on her family, friends and community during her short life.
“When she walked into a room, she lit up that room,” Joyce said. “She made a difference in the life of so many in this room and we won’t forget that.”
Jenna was struck around 5 p.m. Sunday by a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train on the railroad tracks near Howe and Old Orchard Roads, according to police.
Her mother, Dena Betti, wrote in a Facebook message reposted on other social media sites that Jenna was on the tracks with her boyfriend before the collision.
“Why they made such a horrible decision we’ll never know,” she wrote. “The horn blew to alert them. He jumped south side and she cleared north side. She dropped her phone and went back to retrieve it. She didn’t judge the approach and the train creates a vacuum we were told and it sucks you in.”
Martinez Unified School District Superintendent Rami Muth said Jenna played club soccer and was popular, smart and beautiful.
Dena Betti is heavily involved with the school district and serves on the PTA, said Scott Sullivan, a former PTA president and family friend.
Sullivan described Jenna as “a very spirited” girl and recalled how she would jump on stage and grab the microphone during PTA meetings when she was younger.
Several school events have been postponed due to the teen’s death and grief counselors have been made available to students.
Hundreds of people attended a vigil for Jenna at the middle school on Tuesday evening. At today’s memorial, attendees smiled, sniffled and wiped away tears as photos of Jenna throughout her life filled two large projector screens.
Mourners even heard from Jenna herself in a short video montage entitled “My Life in 90 Seconds” that she narrated. In the video, she commented on photos of herself with friends and family, including her two younger sisters.
“Me and my sister have always been really close,” she said. Outside the church following today’s service, groups of people exchanged hugs and memories about the teen.