Hundreds mourn death of Amador freshman at church service last night

School district to hold public forum tonight on teenage concerns

More than 800 students, teachers and others packed the sanctuary of Valley Community Church last night for the memorial service for Evelyn Gonzalez, 14, an Amador Valley High School freshman who died Friday.

Mourners stood along the sides and in the church foyer as the pews in the main sanctuary and the balcony quickly filled for the 6 p.m. service. Flowers also filled the church with several large tables positioned in the foyer for students to sign cards to express their sorrow and tributes to Gonzalez.

The Rev. Jeff Lange, the church's youth minister for high school students, talked about the many friendships Gonzalez had made during her first year at Amador, at Harvest Park, where she attended middle school, and in the community. An avid Facebook contributor, she also had friends far beyond Pleasanton she never really knew but enjoyed those communications, Lange said.

Friends and family members also talked about the cheer she brought to them, even in the most trying moments.

Tonight, the school district will host a community forum from 7 to 8:30 p.m. night in the Amador Valley High library. At the forum, counselors will be available to speak to the public and review signs of depression as well as look for ways the community and schools can work together to support students.

"We encourage families to keep lines of communication open with your students and talk with them about their concerns and feelings," PUSD spokeswoman Myla Grasso said in an email to parents and staff.

Signs of depression, she added, include: sudden changes in behavior, dramatic changes in appetite, sleeping difficulties, poor performance in school, trouble concentrating and agitation, inability to sit still, unexplained loss of energy or excessive fatigue, loss of interest in friends, increased drug/alcohol use, constant feeling of worthlessness or self-hatred, excessive risk taking, preoccupation with death, dying, or suicide; and giving away of personal or prized possessions.

More than 100 fellow students held a candlelight vigil at Amador last Saturday and some also met with school counselors who were available then. Counselors from both Amador and Foothill High School were also available Tuesday when classes resumed after the Washington birthday holiday on Monday.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Evelyn's family and friends at this difficult time," said Principal Bill Coupe in an email to parents and guardians of Amador students Friday shortly after Gonzalez was killed after stepping in front of a Union Pacific freight train on tracks next to the school.

Pleasanton Police Lt. Jeff Bretzing,who investigated the accident, said he could not say why Gonzales walked onto the tracks.

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Like this comment
Posted by Prayers....
a resident of Parkside
on Feb 25, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Rest In Peace Evelyn Gonzalez.

My prayers are with the family.

Like this comment
Posted by Pleasanton Family
a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 25, 2010 at 2:18 pm

We are all saddened by this tragic event. Rest in Peace Evelyn.

Like this comment
Posted by Trevor Garey
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 25, 2010 at 3:55 pm

May you Rest in Peace Evelyn!! I miss you and will never forget you.
To Evelyn family - I am so sorry for your lost. Evelyn was a BEAUTIFUL person inside and out.

Like this comment
Posted by Karen
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2010 at 4:28 pm

I feel for the high school kids who have to hear and see the train and tracks everyday. It's very hard for some of them to have that constant reminder of something so horrific and tragic.

Like this comment
Posted by Student
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Feb 25, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Does anyone know the suicide holiness that u can text to? Thanks

Like this comment
Posted by A Kid
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Feb 25, 2010 at 8:45 pm

I miss you so much Evelyn, what you did was uncool, but I bear with your suffering and love you much.
I break out into tears every time the train shows up during 7th period

Like this comment
Posted by amador
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 25, 2010 at 9:57 pm

No, I don't know of a suicide hotline that you can text to. I called 1-800-suicide to check if they knew of one and they don't either.
If you need help, please call 1-800-Suicide!

In the meantime, does anyone know if such a service is available? I have also heard that the SF suicide crisis center might have an IM service but I haven't been able to find it.

Like this comment
Posted by letsgo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2010 at 10:31 pm

Its tragic. Please, if you or friends have problems, talk them out with somebody...anybody. Give tomorrow a chance.

I'm sorry Evelyn that you did not feel you had any other place to turn.

Like this comment
Posted by Concerned Neighbor
a resident of Del Prado
on Feb 25, 2010 at 10:48 pm

"Student" you can confidential email support through the email address:

"Jo" is simply a fake name used by all their counselors. More info here: Web Link

Also, I found this link with this information:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK.
Txt messaging: type hello crisisline, send to 2333 (Globe) or 211 (Smart)

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Another Neighbor
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Feb 25, 2010 at 11:01 pm

"Student" you can also get help online via Chat and online Forums at a website called Recover Your Life. They help with all self-harm issues - Suicide, Eating Disorders, Cutting, and others:

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Just me
a resident of Las Positas Garden Homes
on Feb 26, 2010 at 9:04 am


Tomorrow is a new day. Our community need you!

Like this comment
Posted by Concerned resident
a resident of Country Fair
on Feb 26, 2010 at 10:13 am

To "Student":
The Student Support Tipline is 925-417-5199. I don't think it has texting capabilities yet. But call that number and get started on a live conversation with someone who is trained to help.
Teenagers often prefer to text than to have a live conversation, but this sort of thing will help more with a live conversation even if it is just on the phone. Phone calls are not just for older people; they can be more effective under some circumstances, including the ones involved here.
There is also a 24 hour Crisis Support Center at 800-309-2131.
Call about yourself or call about a friend. Talk to someone. It could save a life.

Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Amador Estates
on Feb 26, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Kevin Johnson said at the Board meeting on Tuesday that the tipline will have texting capabilities asap.

Like this comment
Posted by A.
a resident of Stoneridge
on Feb 26, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Dear Kid,
I too feel sad every time I hear the train whistle. But I'm trying not to think about the terrible thing that happened anymore. Instead I'm trying to honor Evelyn's memory by thinking bout what a special young person she was. She had a beautiful smile and a special way about her. She can live forever in our hearts. And no one or event can take that away from us.

Like this comment
Posted by A
a resident of Stoneridge
on Feb 26, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Continued from my previous post to Kid
But I also wanted to tell you that I am really sorry for your loss. It sounds like you really cared for her. Please continue to talk to your parents, teachers or anyone that you feel comfortable with. Continue to post, we are also here to listen to you.

Like this comment
Posted by Concerned Neighbor
a resident of Del Prado
on Feb 26, 2010 at 4:08 pm

"Student" you can context these folks by text, IM, email, or MySpace:

Youth Advise - Youth Counseling Services
P. O. Box 1203
Dana, NC 28724

Web Link

Cell Phone Texting - (828) 490-1726

MySpace -
E-mail -
Yahoo - YouthAdvise
ICQ - 175688391

Like this comment
Posted by One Mom
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Feb 26, 2010 at 5:47 pm

While it breaks my heart to read the comments of the pain and loss that so many are feeling from Evelyn's death, I am so touched by the sympathy and caring that is being shared. To all the "students" and "kids" in this community, YOU ARE LOVED AND CARED FOR. If you are unsure of who to turn to, read these comments and know that your life matters to us.

Like this comment
Posted by mary
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2010 at 12:38 am

The "Samaritans" site is located in the UK, Ireland, Wales,etc. It might be preferable to contact a group in the US due to slight cultural differences and emotional proximity.

In addition to the above mentioned sites...many churches offer assistance and referals even if you are not a part of their community.

The hotline phone numbers are a very good bet.

Be good to your heart. Go slowly and take a deep breath. YOU MATTER. Everyone matters.

Like this comment
Posted by Brenda Rodriguez
a resident of another community
on Feb 27, 2010 at 2:16 pm

i will miss you a lot cousin Evelyn Gonzalez and i love you a lot you will be remember

Like this comment
Posted by ashby rodriguez
a resident of another community
on Feb 27, 2010 at 2:31 pm

rest in peace evelyn

Like this comment
Posted by guy
a resident of Birdland
on Feb 27, 2010 at 11:17 pm

(Comment deemed inappropriate by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff)

Like this comment
Posted by upset mom
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Feb 27, 2010 at 11:37 pm

To "Guy"

(Comment partially removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff) My son, a freshman at AVHS, has been in a very deep depression since Evelyn commited suicide. I am very angry at the young lady for doing this to my son and my entire family. It is one thing to have a tragic death of a minor, like a car crash, but when someone kills themself, that is another story. (Comment partially removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff)

Like this comment
Posted by alondra .r
a resident of another community
on Feb 28, 2010 at 7:13 pm

Dear,cousin I will always remember you and i will miss you and i love you forever

Like this comment
Posted by sad
a resident of Country Fair
on Feb 28, 2010 at 7:50 pm

Upset Mom,

I hope your son comes through this ok soon. My heart breaks for many of these kids and teachers. All of the emotions are normal reactions to this. Most of us will feel anger at some point. I can understand your anger but perhaps Evelyn just saved your sons life in someway you many never know. Be thankful that you know he is depressed and struggling with this. I am sure you are seeking help for him. This tragedy may be a catalyst for some underlining issues in many teens. Maybe Evelyn has given you an opportunity to help your son and your relationship grow through this tragedy. Maybe she has opened the eyes of many parents, teachers, and our community in general. Maybe she will help us all be better people. There are many kids in the same place as your son right now because of this but maybe they would have arrived there at some point in their life anyways. Lets not let Evelyn's death mean nothing and lets be sensitive to Evelyns family who is reading this blog. I can't even imagine the pain they are feeling and the sorrow they are carrying for everyone that this has affected. God bless your son and your family. God bless Evelyns family and her dear brother that must return to school everyday.

Like this comment
Posted by Upset Mom
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Feb 28, 2010 at 9:35 pm


Thank you for your support, but due to censorship, my full comment was edited and the comment that spurred mine was completely removed. Basically what "guy" said is suicide is very selfish, and intentionally damages the lives of those left behind. My relationship was great with my son before this and yes I am getting him help which is putting a financial strain on our family, (Comment deemed inappropriate by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff)

Like this comment
Posted by another upset mom
a resident of another community
on Mar 1, 2010 at 2:10 pm

" Upset Mom"

You should be glad you have your son that you can still get help for and stop blaming Evelyn which she was still a child YES a CHILD that did not understand or know what she was doing alot of kids her age still don't understand teenage years are really hard you probably dont remember because it must of been a longggggggg time ago.And the only person that can judge her is God not you i don't know who you think you are sitting there judging her that way, your son probably felt that way before this happened [Portion removed due to disrespectful comment] . You have no idea what her parents and family are going through having to deal with not ever seeing her again and you are here complaining that you have to pay for your son to get help shows that money is more important then your son's well being so go take out your anger out in front of the mirror because that is the only person you should be angry with lady.

Like this comment
Posted by JMF
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Mar 2, 2010 at 8:00 am

The heartbreaking news of another high school student’s flight from life was something I tried to distance myself from. I have my own family and medical problems that are weighing heavily on me right now. But as I drove towards Amador en route to volunteer at Valley View Elementary School, I sensed a tsunami close at hand.

My three girls attended Amador High School. This familiar route is embedded into every one of my cells, tracing the time devoted to their formation. Thousands of trips back and forth to school tracked the daily progress toward their futures.

As I approached the parking lot, it looked surreal. All those cars belonging to students echoed the unheard screams of emptiness that they are now minus one—not from sickness, or transfer, or adolescent boredom or rebellion, but from a tragedy of isolation, more foreboding than any disease. In depression, I have felt physical pain as intense as being deep underwater and unable to breathe. Wanting, needing to be rescued, but instead surrounded by people who could not see my pain, who did not know how desperate I was, only increased my suffering, and “proved” I was alone, with no way out. Separating from the “normal” world and rushing to end the pain—even into the front of a train—is actually a comforting thought to a tortured mind, which seeks the quickest way to end the immense overload the body is ill-prepared to withstand. Evelyn should have been in class, surrounded by classmates.

It is when we feel separated from any conceivable hope that we give up. Embarrassment, shame, overwhelming obstacles, ruined finances and friendships, can bring self-hatred that becomes impossible to endure or escape from. Shutting down, separating, is a form of self-protection, but it quickly summons a shroud of darkness which denounces any solution and chants death, mockingly at first, then through constant, drawn-out torture. All connection to life or feelings, except the searing awareness of aloneness in never-ending agony, is gone. Anything—a spilled drink, a red light, a perceived judgment, an insignificant loss or a “stupid” mistake can become the last straw before grasping any promise of instant relief—the ultimate deception that too many are helplessly drawn to.

The truth is, despite feelings, despite appearances, we are not alone. The nursery tune’s lyrics sung while all hold hands, following each other around the community-made circle, “Ring around the rosey, pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes, we ALL fall down,” perfectly portrays the effect when one of us falls away—we ALL fall down.

By the time I reached the railroad tracks, my staccato sobbing erupted into involuntary wailing, my face contorted in anguish, my body shaking helplessly, my glasses dotted with salty, tsunami tears, my very being repulsed by this horrendous loss. I continued in this storm of uncovered emotion through driving, parking, and walking to the classroom. I barely managed to compose myself while I was with my student, breaking down again several more times afterwards. I’m in mourning. This loss affects me—this precious child I did not know—she’s part of my life; she’s my heartbreak too.

When my son was a Junior at Foothill High School, just a couple of years ago, all three of our high schools suffered from this loss; all three students were within months of my son’s age. It was devastating to me, shattering my soul, the pall stretching over a calendar that marked a change in our quiet community, like September 11 changed our country, never to be “normal” again. Yet Spring overcame Winter; as it is faithfully does, no matter how permanent the dead landscape appears….I was awakened with the thought that the students’ life is the twinkle in Jesus’ eye. I felt compelled to write, sobbing throughout….

The Twinkle of My Eye

Who am I, anyway?
What do I matter?
I don’t like myself.
I don’t fit in.

I am a speck of nothing.
Invisible Vacant Void

No one notices me.
No one will miss me.
The world will be better without me….

Instantly, Jesus knew

He rushed to the
Living Picture of Himself:
God’s Glory revealed continually
through all life interwoven in perfect unity.
The Picture affirmed his alarm:

The Twinkle in His eye was gone-----
------------Sobbing burst forth------------

Time lost all meaning.
Light was extinguished in sorrow,
spiraling into a blackened, eternal night.

Through the shroud of collected tears,
He noticed a new Twinkle in Heaven.
He rushed to place this Twinkle
In His eye of Everlasting Love…

Never to be separated again.

My faith is my solace; the Bible is the source of this poem. By delighting in and meditating on God’s Word (Psalm 1), I am able to derive comfort in times of need by remembering the treasures (truths and promises from God) I’ve stored in my heart. Here are a few of the treasures stored in my heart that led to this poem:

1 Cor 12:12-27 “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts...So it is with Christ...God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be…The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!”…If one part suffers, every part suffers with it…Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”

Zech 2:8 ”—for whoever touches you touches the apple of His eye—“

Ps 42:3 “My tears have been my food day and night”

John 11:33,35,36 “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved….Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

Rev 21:4 “He will wipe every tear from their eyes.”

Ps 56:8 “Put my tears in Your bottle”

Isa 25:8 “he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The Lord has spoken”

Jer 31:3,4 “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt.”

Ps 126:5 “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy”

Rom 8:38,39 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”


All life, every single person, makes up that twinkle in Jesus’ eye. When we look into his eyes, it is our face reflected in them. We each have an individual audience with Jesus, and when you see how beautiful you look from his perfect eye, which sees only the best in you, you do twinkle! We each are that twinkle. And together, we shine brightly. When one sparkle is missing, the whole picture is dimmed.

I had a friend who attempted, then finally succeeded in taking her own life. I miss her. When I had a problem that she was well-trained to answer, I wanted to call her to ask her how to solve it. She was no longer available—to me, her son, her husband, or to all those who could benefit from her talents and abilities. She stopped not only her life, forgoing all the joys she couldn’t conceive of at the time, but she affected the lives of all who were short-changed of the good she would have done for them.

We are all here for a reason. We are not alone. When we look toward our purpose and not our present circumstances, there is hope. Many times I have sorrowed over her permanent “solution” to a temporary situation. In all honesty, I could not say that her life was worse than mine, but I have persevered due to a source of strength that helps me when I feel separated from my loved ones through my own cave-dwelling; when I want to flee the unbearable pain and seek “nothingness” instead. I know Jesus is with me—even when I hide from him and accuse him of not being there.

I have never attempted to take my life because I have an eternal hope, apart from the tangible feelings and circumstances of the present. It is rooted in knowing how loved I am by Jesus, no matter what I’ve done or failed to do. No matter how much I hate myself, I know He doesn’t blame me or condemn me. He shows me I have a good future and gives me hope. This is the truth that sets me free to live and not die.

Currently I am going through several painful issues. I have been depressed throughout many years of my life, and thoughts of death are quite familiar to me, seeming the only comfort to be had at times. These thoughts are with me now—but as alluring as they are, I know they are false, bewitching thoughts—not to be believed!!! I know, “This, too, shall pass.” I know I will laugh again. I know every experience, including the most painful, is a valuable addition to the goal of becoming a whole person. Without testing, temptations, trials and even torment, how can we have compassion on others? It is from our failures that we can help others who go through similar black holes. This is victory!

I pray that each of us knows how valuable we are to others, now and in the future. May we all see ourselves through Jesus’ loving eyes, accepting how He has given unique talents and abilities to each of us—all different, but all worthy. May we reach out to others with our own contributions through our talents and abilities and even our painful past, which is why we are here, which is why I’m writing this now. Amen

Jean Franklin
Barton Tutor (Valley View, Donlon)
Blazing Fire Church

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Ridgeview Commons

on Apr 25, 2017 at 6:43 pm

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