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Superintendent Opens School Board Meeting with Moment of Silence

Before the Santa Barbara school board got to its regular business Tuesday night, Superintendent Dave Cash asked for a moment of silence for the current and former students who have died in the last few weeks.

He said the Santa Barbara Unified School District family has had many dark days recently.

Simon Chavez, a former Santa Barbara High School baseball coach and student, was struck and killed on Highway 101 on Jan. 15 in what authorities say was a hit-and-run accident. Chavez was 22.

The man accused of the hit-and-run, 78-year-old Lau van Huynh of Murrieta, was ordered to stand trial after a preliminary hearing Monday.

Witnesses reported that Chavez had been staggering in traffic before he was struck, but didn’t say whether he seemed to be under the influence, according to hearing testimony. His toxicology results have not been released by the Santa Barbara County Coroner’s Office.

The Cleveland Elementary School community is still mourning the loss of sixth-grader Celine de la Mora, 11, who died unexpectedly Jan. 24. She was a “talented, charming sixth-grader” who “showed tremendous promise,” Cash said.

The family has asked for privacy, and the cause of death has not been released. There were speculations that the young girl had the flu, but the cause was not an infectious disease, district spokeswoman Barbara Keyani told Noozhawk two weeks ago.

The district was hit hard again with the news that two former students had been killed, reportedly by their father, as they slept in their home in Calavaras County.

Former airline captain Philip Marshall, 54, fatally shot his son Alex, 17, and daughter Macaila, 14, while they were sleeping on the living room coach on Jan. 31, according to authorities. Marshall then turned the gun on himself.

The Marshalls used to live in the Santa Barbara area. Macaila attended La Colina Junior High in 2010-11, and Alex attended San Marcos High School, according to Keyani. Cash said both children are remembered by staff members and students.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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