Just two months ago, Tyler Scheurenbrand was graduating from San Juan Hills High. With his adventuresome spirit, his whole world was before him.
Tyler’s uncle, Greg Williams, said Tyler was destined to become a great man, and was already on that path in his short time since commencement.
But on Friday, Tyler was dead.
After careening down a mountain in the Angeles National Forest, the car Tyler was driving burst into flames. Passenger Madison Spangenthal –a fellow Stallion from the Class of 2012 – managed to crawl out. She tried to save Tyler, father Ruben Spangethal said.
“She unbelted him and tried to lift him, but she couldn’t,” he said. She told her dad, “’I stayed as long as I could, but then the fire was getting big, and I had to leave.’”
Tuesday evening, as the sun set, friends and family gathered in Ladera Ranch’s Town Green Park to remember Tyler. Many among the 200 in attendance were under 20.
When asked to describe him, his friends inevitably said Tyler was the kind of guy who made friends with anybody. Their presence proved it. There were friends from his class at San Juan, the one before him and two years following. There was the friend from his year – who went to Tesoro.
“He had friends in every grade, every group. He knew everyone,” said friend Alexis D’Epagnier, who helped organize the candlelight vigil.
“His goal,” friend Christian Best added, “was to make other people happy, and if he did that, he was happy.”
Tyler had planned to go to Universal Technical Institute to become a car mechanic, even though he was already very good with cars, said Alexander Bunar.
But until then, he was spending his summer going on one adventure after another, Madison said. Already, they had tried to sleep overnight on a beach – that didn’t end up so well – and hung out at Top of the World.
Tyler liked to get away from it all, said Best. He especially liked to find places where you couldn’t see any nearby cities.
So on Thursday, he decided he wanted to go to the National Angeles Forest.
He had asked his friend Vahan Mardirossian to join Madison and him.
“I almost did, but I stayed behind,” Mardirossian said. On Friday morning, he awoke with a premonition. He tried desperately to get Madison or Tyler on the phone. There was no answer.
He posted a photo to Instagram and eerily invited Madison and Tyler to like it if they were still alive.
“But neither of them replied,” Mardirossian said. “I lost a best friend, but I gained a guardian angel.”
And when Madison finally came up to the microphone, “guardian angel” were the words she used, too.
“There was no way at all, no way, I should’ve made it out alive. No way,” she said through tears.
Williams said the family is planning a memorial service Friday.
A spokesman for the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office said it may take “awhile” to positively identify Tyler.