A light has gone out for those who knew Desiree “Dee Dee” Rivera, who died early Saturday in a car accident in southwest Bakersfield.
She was 16 and just started her junior year at Ridgeview High School on Aug. 18.
“I feel like there’s not even going to be that kind of happiness, that light,” said friend Shannon Cooper, 17. “When she was happy, everybody was happy.”
Her mother said her baby girl brought life to the family’s house.
“She was my daughter, she was my friend. Wherever I went, she went, almost like my backbone,” said Rosie Rivera.
They liked to watch “Two and a Half Men” together and TV news, but both would lose interest when sports were covered. They argued from time to time, and if her mother would cry, Rivera would comfort her.
She was “always a peacemaker, she never wanted anybody to be hurt,” her mom said.
A fan of energetic “hyphy” dancing, Dee Dee Rivera could have a bit of an attitude. But in a good way, friends and family said.
Friday night, Dee Dee Rivera begged for permission to go out, and her mom expected her home by 12:30 a.m. She fell asleep waiting for her brown-eyed girl.
At 2:45 a.m., Rosie Rivera awoke and realized her daughter wasn’t home — she knew something was wrong. The accident happened shortly after midnight. The other passengers suffered injuries.
Family friend Ricardo Jimenez came to the house soon thereafter and told Rosie Rivera about the wreck. He said Rivera was like a little sister to him.
Her daughter wore her seat belt in the front passenger seat, but it wasn’t enough to protect her when the car hit a tree in the median on Old River Road, south of White Lane.
A stump about 5 feet high rested at a 45-degree angle in the median, some of its roots above ground. Flowers and candles encircled the base of a nearby pine, and pieces of posterboard with notes on heart-shaped paper to Rivera were attached above them.
“I love you and miss you with all my heart,” wrote Stacey Reed. Rivera encouraged Reed to “keep my head up and now I have a reason to. I’m looking up at you.”
Bakersfield police are investigating the crash, said Lt. Mike Cantrell, Sunday afternoon.
In addition to her mother, Dee Dee is survived by her father, Andre Rivera; brothers Jeff Lawson and Eric Rivera; sister Vanessa Molica; grandparents Jakov and Tonka Dulcich, Rudy Rivera, and Olivia Soria; and uncles Nick and Peter Dulcich.
A viewing is tentatively scheduled for Thursday. Mass will be at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 900 H St.