On August 30, 2008, sixteen-year-old Dylan Pendleton was killed after the truck he was driving hit a pole in Camarillo, California. It was reported that he was drunk when the crash occurred. To follow is an account by a friend of Dylan’s, who was also 16 at the time of Dylan’s death.
Names and some details have been changed in this story, but is a true account.
I was having a good day, the second week of school in my junior year and it still felt like summer to me. I was 16 without a license, but all of my friends willing to drive me anywhere, doing anything and everything we pleased. I had plans for the night, and I couldn’t wait for school to be over. I knew something was going to happen that night, but I thought it would be something good. Little did I know, that a tragedy, the saddest moment of our lives, would happen that night on August 30th. Although the night is hard for me to remember, I’ll do it for him. For Dylan.
When Kim picked me up from my house, I just remember being so excited. We didn’t know exactly what we were going to do, but we knew that Monica lived in Ojai, and her parents weren’t home. We were free to do whatever we wanted, and could come home to a house where no parents would know how messed up we were. So Kim and I headed up to Ojai.
We made our phone calls to decide what our plans for the night were going to consist of. We then found out about a party in Camarillo. Soon, we got to Monica’s house and started getting ready for the party. Another friend, Nora, was hesitant about going out, but we convinced her that there was no possible way she could get caught. It turned out we were right, but we didn’t know that what would happen that night was something one hundred times worse than getting caught.
But who knew? So we drove off to Camarillo. When we walked in to the party, I was happy to see lots of my best guy friends. I was mainly surprised and excited to see Dylan, who I called DP, or Deeps. I was so happy to see him there. Richard made me a drink, and I drank it in the kitchen next to Deeps, standing behind the island.
“Let me get a sip of that Sarah,” I remember DP asking me.
“No way, Deeps, the bottom is the strongest. I need this sip,” ?I said.
“I know,” he said, “that’s why I want it, of course.”
I laughed, downed the last of my drink, and headed over to the beer pong table. ? I sat down on the couch, feeling tipsy and watched as Phil and Lawrence battled it out. DP came and sat next to me, and he put his arm around me — I can’t remember what we were talking about but we were having a good time. I then remember getting up, and heading to the kitchen. I sat on Paul’s lap for a while and took a few more gulps from the Captain Morgan Rum bottle. It was at this point when the girls and I forgot all our other plans — the party was fun and we were way too drunk to leave or do anything else.
I remember going outside to the backyard, where there was a pool. Jordan, DP, and some other people followed me, and before they knew it I had taken off my shirt and jumped in the pool in my jeans and a bra. Some jumped in with me, one was Jordan. The other much have been DP, because the next thing I remember is standing in the living room, just me and him, both soaking wet, I only in a bra and jeans and Deeps just in his blue boxers. This moment is one that is very important to me, but hard to remember. If I think deep and hard, I remember DP holding my waist, and I holding his. He was talking to me, about something important that I just cant remember. I turned my head to the right, to see a mirror, and just our two reflections standing there, soaking and barely clothed, I looked back at him and we kissed. We didn’t like each other, and it didn’t mean anything, but I now realize that DP needed someone. He was going through a time where he wanted change, and he wanted someone to talk to, about everything.
When Justin walked in the room and saw us there, I let go of DP. I changed into some dry clothes and walked outside the front door with Justin and Rory. We walked down the street, and the time while we were gone must have been when all the commotion about DP leaving was going on. The three of us must have been outside for about ten minutes. When we walked back in the house, I remember there being a lot of fighting, and I wasn’t sure what it was about. But Maria was sick, and Kathy said it was time to leave to bring her home. When we were leaving, DP wanted to leave too. I remember realizing that the fighting was because everyone was trying to get DP to stay in the house. Even in our states of mind, we knew he couldn’t drive.
I was drunk and confused, but I knew DP was getting angry that people weren’t allowing him to drive home. Kathy and Nikki were taking care of Maria, and had walked out to the car. Somehow, I don’t recall how, but DP had gotten his keys and headed out to his car. I remember thinking to myself, everyone is getting so mad at him, and he’s not happy. Maybe if I just talk to him, he’ll listen to me and stay here. I remember walking out to his car, he was in the driver’s seat already. And I made him roll down the window. “ DP, please,” I said, “you know you can’t drive like this. Your so messed up right now, please don’t drive.” ?“Don’t even trip Bridget,” he said, “I can do this, I want to leave. I hate my life right now Bridget. I’m fine, I can drive.”?I knew when he said that he hated his life right now, something was wrong. DP was such a happy person, always laughing, making other people laugh, he always had a smile on his face. I knew something must have been wrong, why would he just say something like that? ?I said back, “No DP, please, just stay here, you really shouldn’t drive.” But I knew that no matter what I said to him, he wasn’t going to listen, he was going to drive away. It was as I was talking to him, that Kathy called me, “Were leaving right now Bridget! Get in the car!” ?“I have to go DP.” Someone pulled me into the Danali with Kathy and Nikki and Maria. There was so much going on, but all I remember was me thinking about DP. I was sure he was going to make it home fine, but there was something about him that night that wasn’t the same. I couldn’t stop thinking about my last conversation with him, he just seemed so sad.
In the car, I wasn’t feeling my best. I sunk down low in my seat and rested my head on Nikki’s arm as Kathy, who was sober, drove us back to Maria’s house. I don’t remember where we were, but Kathy said to me, “DP is calling you,” and handed me my phone. I was relieved that he was calling me, because I couldn’t get our last conversation out of my head. I was mostly happy that I could talk to him, I thought that maybe I could talk him out of driving. Little did I know that he was already on his way home.
There was already a lot going on in the car, Kathy frantically asking for directions, and Maria throwing up into a plastic bag. I plugged my other ear with my finger so that I could understand DP’s slurred speech. During our talk he told me that he liked me, and that he wanted to talk to me. I don’t believe that in his state of mind he meant what he said about his feelings for me, but I know that he was looking for someone to talk to. Our phone conversation is very vague to me, but I remember him saying, “ I like you Bridget, but your with Justin.” ?“I’m not with Justin DP, but you don’t even like me, your not even gonna remember this in the morning Deeps,” I slurred back. ?“Yes I will, Bridget,” he said. I didn’t know what to say, because I knew DP’s feelings for me were nothing more than friends and I knew he would realize this in the morning, but right now, I needed to get him to stop the car. ?“Just please don’t drive Deeps, please, you can’t be driving right now.”?“Why wouldn’t I drive? You don’t like me, I hate myself right now. I don’t have a reason not to drive.” ?I don’t remember what I said back to him, but now, there are so many things that I wish I could have said. Then I remember Kathy firmly said to me, “Bridget there’s too much commotion, I cant focus with Maria throwing up and you talking, get off the phone.”?I didn’t want to leave him, I wanted to stay on the phone with him the whole night, until I knew he was home and safe. I knew he was hurting and alone, and I just wanted to talk to him, and for him to talk to me. But I knew it was important for Kathy to have concentration. I had to hang up the phone. ?“I’m sorry Deeps,” I said, “I have to go.” ?I remember, he just replied with a sad, “Okay Bridget.”?“Bye Deeps,” I said. “Bye Bridget.”
The next morning I woke up, a little hung over, in Maria’s downstairs bedroom, at the same time as Kathy. I looked at her and we laughed, recalling all the funny things that we remembered from the night before. It had ended up being a great night. I though to myself, sweet, were here, safe, we didn’t get caught, good to go. I called my dad and said good morning, telling him that Kathy had an early awards ceremony to go to at her school and that she would come back for me after it was over. I told him that we had a fun girls night, staying in and watching movies. He was happy that I had been responsible and called him. Smooth, I thought to myself.
My cell phone was dead and would only stay on for a few seconds which was disappointing because I saw that I had a lot of new messages. I called Justin around ten to recall the funny times we had the night before. I told him about me and DP’s conversation, how DP had drunkenly told me he liked me, we laughed and I said how funny Deeps would think it was when I reminded him when I next saw him. Justin agreed and I told him I’d call him when I got back into Camarillo.
Kathy had gone to her awards ceremony at St. Bonnies and Nikki, Maria, and I sat in the family room, watched TV and ate cinnamon rolls. I then got up to check on my phone in the other room when Nikki called me and said that Kathy called her and wanted to talk to me. I picked up Nikki’s cell phone, “Heello?” ?“Is DP’s real name Dylan Pendleton?” ?“Haha yeah, why?” I replied. ?The tone in Kathy’s voice dropped as she said, “Bridget, I think he died last night. I’m here and some of my friends were good friends with him, I’m not positive but I’m pretty sure.” ?I cant explain the feeling I felt when she said those words. My stomach dropped, my palms began to sweat, and my heart started racing a million miles a second. ?“Oh my God.” I said, “Are you sure?” I thought, Kathy cant be right, I’m sure its just a misunderstanding, Deeps is fine. ?Kathy replied, “I don’t know, my friend Daniel walked away really upset, I asked him what was wrong and he said that his friend Dylan Pendleton got in a car crash last night.” ?“Oh my God, I’ll call you back.” ?I frantically hung up the phone and immediately called Trevor’s cell. I remember being so nervous, I was shaking, and in shock, I just kept thinking, she has to be wrong. It must be a mistake. When Justin picked up, I said to him crying, “Justin, Kathy just called me, she said DP died last night.”?“No Bridget,” he said back, “DP’s fine, don’t worry, is she sure?” ?“No she didn’t say she was sure,” I told him. Justin’s calmness reassured me, and I calmed down when he told me DP was fine. I assumed that he must have talked to him already. ?“Have you talked to him yet today?” I asked.?“No.” ?“Then give me his number my phone’s dead I’m gonna call him.” ?After Justin gave me his number, I thought, in case he doesn’t pick up, I’ll call Dan, one of DP’s best friends, he’ll know what‘s up. Justin gave me Dan’s number as well. I hung up the phone with Justin and looked down at the numbers. Justin was calm as usual, and his words gave me the feeling that Deeps was just fine, so I calmed down. I looked down at the two numbers, hesitant of which one to call first. I’ll call Deeps I thought. I dialed the number, but before it started ringing I hung up, afraid that I wouldn’t get an answer. So I called Dan. ?“Hello?” he answered.?I was so scared, I couldn’t focus on anything except finding out if DP was okay, my heart was beating so fast I began to get light headed. ?“Dan its Bridget, do you know anything about DP?” I asked. ?He replied sadly, “Yeah I’m at his house right now.” When I heard him say this I briefly perked up, I thought, he’s at his house, he must be with DP. Deeps probably made it home and just is in a lot of trouble. “Is he okay?” I hesitantly asked. ?Then Dan replied, “No Bridget, he’s not okay.” Immediately I started bawling. But I quickly convinced myself that he was only badly injured. Maybe in some sort of a coma, or paralyzed. When I said softly, “What do you mean he’s not okay?” ?I wasn’t ready for the horrible response of Dan crying saying, “He’s dead Bridget.” ?I was in shock, the room was spinning and I couldn’t believe my ears, nor could I stop crying. ?“I’m so sorry,” I said bawling, “I told him not to drive Dan, I told him not to drive.” ?I was crying so hard that Dan couldn’t understand me, I hung up the phone and immediately called Justin and Trevor back. ?“I just called Dan,” I managed to say through my tears. “He’s dead Justin, he crashed.” ?I knew Justin didn’t know what to say. He was silent for a long time as I cried, and finally said, “This is the worst thing that could ever happen.”?He was right. People in our group have gotten messed up and drove plenty of times. Never thinking about the consequences of our actions. None of us had ever thought that something this horrible would ever happen to one of us. And especially DP? I still wonder to this day why it had to be him. Someone with such a big heart, so full of life, and so happy. And that’s exactly how I remember him.
When I got back to Camarillo, I met up with Kathy and my other friend Jenna. Kathy was overwhelmed with guilt, as was I. We were just with him last night! I thought. He cant be gone, I just saw him. I played our phone conversation over and over in my head, trying to remember it. I couldn’t forgive myself for months, thinking, I said the wrong thing, my phone call distracted him from focusing on driving, I should have said something else to make him stop the car. It took me a while, and a lot of comforting from my good friends for me to realize, DP chose to drive, and there was nothing more I could have done to stop him. The guilt from the people that were with him at the party was haunting. I know Trevor couldn’t stop thinking about how he should have beat the crap out of DP so he wouldn’t have been able to get in the car in the first place. ? While at my house with Kathy and Jenna I charged my phone and started to listen to the messages. When the computer voice told me I had a message at 2:11 AM, I knew it had to be from Deeps. I braced myself, knowing that I would soon hear his voice. But once I heard him speak, I couldn’t handle it, sadness swept over me and so did an overwhelming feeling of sickness, I wanted to throw up. I plugged my ears, the message was on speaker and I couldn’t handle hearing his voice. I wanted to drown out the sound, I started bawling and screaming, covering my ears and leaving the room. I soon calmed down and saved the message. Kathy, Jenna, and I only wanted to be surrounded by the people that knew DP. We left my house and met up with everyone. All we did for days was drive around meeting all of DP’s best friends. It was good for all of us to be around each other, comforting one another. However, something was missing, we tried hard not to think about his absence, but it dug at all of our hearts, as it still does today, and will for a very long time.
Two days after the shocking and tragic day occurred, I had to go to school. It hurt to go to school, to be asked questions by people who didn’t know DP. Everyone who didn’t know him asked me if I was okay, and hugged me, I know they were trying to make me feel better, but I just thought, of course I’m okay, its DP that’s not okay. I distanced myself from everyone except for the people that knew DP. At the time, I didn’t even want to talk to anyone else. I’m so lucky to go to school with many of DP’s best friends, I don’t know what I would have done without them there the first couple of weeks.
Those first couple of weeks were the saddest of my entire life. DP’s death was the last thing I thought about when I went to bed, praying for his family and closest friends every night, and the first thing I thought about when I woke up, always thinking maybe it was just a dream, but of course it never was, just a terrible living nightmare. At school, sometimes people would say, “I heard it was a phone call that made him crash,” or “What idiot let him have the keys anyways.” The guilt from the phone call was overwhelming and depressing for a very long time. And I knew that Trevor, Justin, and Rylan also felt that tremendous guilt about DP being able to leave the party.
It took me a while, as it did everyone, to finally realize that DP wasn’t coming back. I guess I sort of just expected to bump into him, or that I was going to see him. I thought, he’s just in a lot of trouble, he’s in rehab like our friend Kaleb, and were not going to see him for a really long time.? Whenever I really missed DP, I would listen to the message he left me. With his speech slurred and a lot of noise in the back round, it was somewhat difficult to make out exactly what he was saying. But after listening to the message over thirty times in a row, I got it down. One night, about three days after Deep’s death, I was sitting upstairs by myself on my couch in the dark. I held my phone up to my ear and listened to some of DP’s last words over and over. I didn’t want to stop listening to his voice and I kept repeating the message over and over as DP said, “Hello. Bridget, um I hope, I hope this is your voicemail, I don’t even know what I’m doing! I just really wanna talk to you about everything. I hope you’ll call me back, pleeeease, pleeeeeeease respond back. Bye.” As the message repeated for about the fifteenth time, tears streaming down my face, I felt as if I wasn’t alone. Like DP was there, comforting me. I still feel like that, like DP is here, in spirit, watching over all of us.
DP’s funeral was a very hard day for me, as it was for many of us. It was so sad, and so final. When I walked through I doors with Michele holding my hand, I was so happy to see such a huge amount of people inside the building. Every room was filled with teenagers, all of whom had been touched by Dylan Pendleton. That was the day that I realized DP wasn’t coming back, he wasn’t in trouble or grounded, he was gone. And I would never see him again. I saw some people cry that day that had probably never cried before in their lives. I remember going through my friend Caitlyn’s closet to pick out a black dress. I was crying, out of anger. Anger that I still felt guilty, anger that I shouldn’t be having to pick out a black dress for my sixteen year old friend’s funeral in the first place, and anger that something like this was actually happening. I was even angry at myself for feeling so sad. I remember thinking, and still think to this day, I am so selfish. If I’m this sad, imagine what Dan, Cody, Kaleb, Jacob, his other closest friends must feel like. What about his younger brother? His mom and dad? I still cant even express in words how much my heart goes out to DP’s family, and closest friends. I still pray for all of them every night. What I was most angry about was the fact that I wasn’t learning enough from his death. I thought to myself, DP being here is one thousand times more important than any lesson I could have learned. I have now learned a lot through DP’s death, and I hope the rest of the group feels the same, but I still feel like his presence is more important than what I have learned. And I guess that’s the lesson in itself.
I’ve learned that nothing good comes from alcohol and drugs. Nothing at all. Nothing but stupid decisions, and even death. I’ve learned that having a good relationship with your parents is extremely important. Its very important for parents to know exactly where their children are and who they are with. I think that act alone can prevent things like this from happening immensely. I’ve also learned that drinking and driving would never even be an option, and that I would never allow anyone to be able to get inside a car if they had been drinking or on drugs.
To this day I still feel the guilt, a certain emptiness, and the immense sadness of missing Dylan, but I try to think about the good times I shared with Deeps, and I remember that everything happens for a reason. But God, I miss him so much. ? One of the many good things about DP, is that even though he is gone, he still puts a smile on my face. Just by thinking of the good times we had together, just by thinking of his smile, or something funny he did. A few weeks ago, I couldn’t get DP off my mind, and something in my head told me to take a walk past my park. As I walked by it, I looked over to the basketball court. A flashback of DP playing basketball with a few of our friends came into my head and made me smile from ear to ear. I remember sitting down on the grass watching them with my dog. DP came over and sat next to me. As the other boys continued to play their intense game of basketball, we sat next to each other making fun of my completely worthless piece of crap dog, Tommy. My laughter died and turned into a faint smile, “I miss you so much Deeps,” I said out loud. Just as I spoke those words, a gentle gust of wind brushed against me, rustling the branches of the trees and making a beautiful sound on the wind chime to the house on the left of me. Call me crazy, but I knew it was DP, letting me know he was still with us, in spirit, watching over. When I went back to my house, I couldn’t help but google Dylan Pendleton. What I found was a pleasant coincidence. Tannor Suza’s mother had written a thought to Dylan’s parents on a blog. One line of it said that Dylan’s love was like the wind, we can’t see it, but we can feel it.
In loving memory of Dylan Scott Pendleton, you will be forever missed <3
The author is a high school student in Camarillo.