ALHAMBRA (CBSLA.com) —Friends and loved ones gathered Monday at Mark Keppel High School in Alhambra to remember a beloved senior who died on a hike last week.
Classmates brought flowers to the after-school memorial for 17-year-old Esther Suen, who was killed Friday after she fell 200 feet from a cliff in Eaton Canyon in Altadena.
“It was pretty surreal. I couldn’t believe it at all actually,” friend Chelsea Aquino told KCAL9’s Jeff Nguyen. “Everyone knew Esther. Everyone got along with Esther. Her smile, her personality. She’s just like a great girl. Down to earth.”
Paul and Karen Wong, who live next door to the Suen family, came to the school to pay their respects.
“We’ve known her mother for 25 years. We’re just supporting her and the family,” Karen Wong said.
Suen, who was on the dive team, loved science and played the piano.
“She was a very bright, smart, talented child. We listened to her piano playing practice. She was very good,” Paul Wong said.
The school will keep the auditorium open to students for the rest of the week to allow them to drop off donations or give well wishes to Suen’s family.
“We’ve had upward of 50-plus grief counselors on campus the entire day attending to both the students and staff,” said Dr. Laurel Bear, the director of student services.
Thai-Say Sasaki, 18, also fell during the hike.
He told friends over the phone on Monday that he was being released from the hospital.
“Glad to hear that he’s OK, that he’s doing fine,” friend Willis Trinh said.
Two other students were on the hike, but weren’t hurt.
It’s still unclear what caused the fall that took Suen’s life.
A private memorial for Suen will be held Saturday in Alhambra.