Memorial for Angel and Angelina Posca

From left, Yanette Posca, her daughter Gianna Cereghino and daughter's husband Joe Cereghino during a memorial service to dedicate a rose garden for Posca's husband and youngest daughter at Glenola Park in La Cañada Flintridge on Thursday, April 1, 2010, on the 1-year anniversary of a fatal multi-vehicle crash caused by a runaway big rig on Angeles Crest Highway at Foothill Blvd. that took the lives of Posca's husband Angel and daughter Angelina, who was 12 when she died. A private service will be held to mark the five-year anniversary next week. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer / March 26, 2014)

On Tuesday, in the absence of fanfare or media attention, La Cañada’s tiny Glenola Park will play host to a quiet memorial service as friends and family gather to remember and mourn two of their own, whose lives were tragically cut short five years ago that day.

They will recall Angel “Jorge” Posca, 58, and 12-year-old Angelina Posca, lost the evening of April 1, 2009, when a 25-ton car carrier truck traveling south on the Angeles Crest Highway lost control of its brakes and collided with their car before careening into Flintridge Bookstore.

It is a pilgrimage the family makes every year from Palmdale to La Cañada, according to longtime friend Kristen Eddy, who lives in Pasadena.

“We will always honor them,” Eddy said. “There’s a hole in our hearts that will never really heal. There was a piece of our spirit that was taken that day, that was stolen.”

The deaths of the father and daughter still haunt La Cañadans who remember and were involved in that fateful day and the aftermath of the criminal and civil trials that followed.

Marcos Costa, the 44-year-old driver of the truck, was arrested and served time for involuntary manslaughter, gross vehicular manslaughter and reckless driving. The city of La Cañada was one of several defendants — including Caltrans, the trucking company and the manufacturer of Costa’s GPS device — named in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the Posca family in 2012, and paid a $50,000 settlement in 2012.

But for all the bad that occurred, many acknowledge some long-term good came out of it, too.

As a direct result of the accident, improvements have been made along Angeles Crest that allow trucks experiencing brake issues to exit traffic lanes.

A temporary ban prohibiting trucks with three or more axles from traveling on Angeles Crest was soon after made permanent, thanks to Bill 1361, co-written by state Sen. Carol Liu and former Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, who recalled his reaction to the events of that day in an interview.

“My own daughters were in that intersection earlier in the day, and I knew people who were in the bookstore earlier that day,” Portantino recalled. “It could have been any of us.”

La Cañada Mayor Laura Olhasso, then fresh into her second mayoral term, recalled hearing of the incident on the radio while driving to a conference in Long Beach. After making several phone calls to city officials to learn more, she returned to the scene.

“I immediately came home and went to that intersection — it was horrific,” Olhasso said.

As tragic as it was, the 2009 accident was not the first of its kind to have occurred in that area. Historically, out-of-control vehicles had struck buildings and cars along that same corridor.

In September 2008, just months before the Poscas were killed, another big rig slammed into the southern wall of the Hill Street Cafe, smashing several other vehicles in the process, but causing only injuries.

City officials urged Caltrans to respond to the conditions that contributed to that incident, but had been largely ignored, Portantino recalled.

“[The September accident] had been six months earlier, and Caltrans still hadn’t taken action. They had a choice to step in voluntarily and they didn’t,” he said. “That’s why it was appropriate for legislators to step in.”

Portantino invited then-Caltrans Director Will Kempton to the scene on April 2, 2009. It was Kempton who called for the temporary truck ban.

“He invited me to the scene, and I felt it was important to go,” Kempton said in an interview Monday. “It was very clear we wanted to do something so that kind of situation didn’t happen again.”

In five years, there have been no similar accidents in that area, which some attribute to the positive changes made to roads and signage.

“I know we are safer than we were,” Olhasso said.

And so Tuesday’s memorial will be quiet as the Posca family remembers Jorge — the pillar of the family to whom everyone turned for wisdom, advice or a hearty laugh — and 12-year-old Angelina, the late-in-life baby everyone joked was not a mere princess, but the queen of the family.

Perhaps they will look upon the plaque, recall the kindness of the La Cañadans who embraced them in the days following the accident and feel themselves part of a larger, human family. Wherever their thoughts may turn, Eddy is certain they will make room for more healing.

“There’s just so much to find joy in,” Eddy said, partly referring to the eight babies who’ve been born into the extended Posca family since the accident. “That’s mostly how we’ve healed, by just finding the joy in life and being glad that we got Jorge and Angelina for as long as we did.”

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Follow Sara Cardine on Twitter: @SaraCardine.

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