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'God has his reasons'

April 05, 2000

Greg Risling

All seemed well on Saturday for David Riley and his 10-year-old daughter,


The young extrovert -- part altruist and part muse -- was excited about

attending her second birthday party for the day. Cruising along in his

1932 Ford Coupe convertible, aptly named "Dad's 32," Riley leaned over

and told his daughter how much he loved her.


"I love you more, Dad," Yvette responded.

Those were her last words.

Moments later, Riley lost control of his roadster, then slammed into a

median and flipped over. Pinned beneath the car's weighty frame, he

screamed for his daughter.

There was no response.

Aided by Newport Beach paramedics, Riley was taken to a hospital, only to

be informed later that Yvette had died in the accident.

"This is the most devastating experience of my life," he said from his

Corona del Mar home. He escaped major injury and the physical aches are

healing with the help of a support brace around his waist. However, he

and his wife, Yvonne, believe a higher power spared his life and took his


"It's such a shock for a father to lose one of his children. I wondered

why I survived and not her. We figure God has his reasons."

The family has huddled inside their Corona del Mar home, preparing for

their daughter's funeral. They have been supported by a large group of

friends and family, who have showered them with cards and flowers.

The condolences have been helpful, but their religious beliefs, serving

as a sturdy emotional pillar, have guided them through the grief.

"Not everybody has faith this strong," said family friend Cathe Laurie.

"This is an amazing example of someone's faith in God."

Yvonne Riley is a testament to that. Sifting through pictures of Yvette,

she believes her daughter is in a better place.

"She's in the best place you can be," she replied. "I don't have to worry

about her. This is a tragedy mixed with our sincere belief that she is in

heaven. That gives me peace."

Their daughter was enrolled at Maranatha Christian Academy at Calvary

Chapel in Costa Mesa. She had recently showed interest in guitar after

listening to a gospel singer, although at 10 years old, she was enamored

by teen pop stars Brittany Spears and the Backstreet Boys.

She'll always have a lasting legacy in the family. When her younger

sister, 9-year-old Rachelle, was born, Yvette had problems pronouncing

her name. So Yvette called her "Belle," and the name has stuck.

Yvette had an artistic side -- probably from her father, who is a graphic

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