:: Signs of love prevail at funeral for teen (Rocky Mountain News) ::

Signs of love prevail at funeral for teen (Rocky Mountain News): As a child of deaf adults, Samara Stricklen first learned to communicate with her parents by using her eyes and hands, even though she could hear.
With a huge smile, she’d hold up her pinky, index and thumb to sign to her parents, friends and younger brother, Zachariah, that she loved them.

On Monday, nearly 300 friends and relatives attended the memorial service at the Bear Creek Church in Lakewood to celebrate the life of a young woman who helped bring together the deaf and hearing communities.

“She was a wonderful leader for our deaf community because of her parents,” said Suzanne Metz, a friend of the family, who saw Stricklen grown up.

“We’re thankful that we don’t have any regrets about Samara,” her mother, Michelle Stricklen, said during the service through a sign language interpreter.

“She was powerful and had strength and poise.”

Stricklen was killed late Tuesday in Lakewood when a female teen driver in a sport utility vehicle drifted over the center lane on West Alameda Parkway near West Florida Drive and crashed head on with the car in which Stricklen was riding.

The 16-year-old driver of the SUV, who police suspect had been drinking, is expected to appear in court today on possible charges of vehicular homicide.

Dozens of friends, some wearing pink and polka-dot ribbons, shared memories of Stricklen as a slide show of photos told the story of a playful and sometimes goofy girl with a love for fashion.

“Samara was the queen of pants and shoes. She loved music and loved poetry,” said Rev. Aric Randolph through a sign language interpreter.

A male friend told about how Stricklen made him try on a dress at the mall.

“She was just beautiful and a unique person. There was nobody else like her,” said 16-year-old Alyssa Allan.

Maria Ruiz Williams, a friend of the family, said she hopes the tragedy will reinforce that “even one drink is enough to impair the ability to drive.”

Alex Pfau, 16, said he had a special bond with Stricklen because, like her, Pfau grew up in a household where both parents communicate through sign language.

“She was like my blood sister,” he said. “I’m still upset and angry. But I know that anger will not change what happened.”

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