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Local dies in Bronco crash

Newport Harbor alumnus speeds down street and is thrown from truck. Police say he would have lived had he worn his seat belt.

August 14, 2008|By Joseph Serna

Already Brian Campos’ friends can feel the hole left by his death.

They’ve said the Newport Beach car lover was the life of the party, the loyal friend they’ve known since high school and the guy who not only had dreams for his future, but also did what it took to achieve them.

That all came to a sudden end early Thursday when police say his 1974 Ford Bronco slammed into the center divider as it raced southbound on Superior Avenue near Ticonderoga Street in Newport Beach, throwing Campos from the truck because he wasn’t wearing his seat belt.

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“He was always so full of life and lived every day to its fullest. He was so fearless,” wrote Linda Salazar, a friend of Campos’ through high school, in an e-mail. “Whatever he wanted to do in life he did.”

Heather Taylor, another friend from high school, remembers driving on Newport Beach streets and sidewalks in a golf cart with Campos when they were younger.

“He was really goofy, and he was just so funny and just being around him was great,” Taylor said. “He was so compassionate. It’s just the saddest thing that someone like him would be taken away.”

Campos played football and soccer for Newport Harbor High School before graduating and becoming the punter for OCC’s football team. Coaches said Campos was one of the nicest players they had and his loyalty shined through.

Friends who commented on Campos’ MySpace page Thursday expressed utter disbelief that their friend died, but they were happy he was a part of their lives.

“You will be missed and remembered for all of the great memories you helped create with every one of us. We love you!” one friend wrote.

His quote on his MySpace page reads, “Life has its turns and hills...then there’s that straight-a-way!!! FLOOR IT!!!” Taylor said that’s how Campos approached life: “When it’s bad it’s bad, when it’s good it’s good and you have to live life to the fullest,” she said.

“He was always so happy and fun to be around. He made even the littlest thing fun and enjoyable,” Salazar said. “He was always doing something to make it the best it could be.”

Dianne Kanavaloff lives near where the accident occurred and said she heard Campos’ truck accelerate as it went down Superior Avenue then crash into center median.

Kanavaloff did not want to talk about what she saw, but said three women driving up the street just after the accident became physically ill at the sight.

“We hear accidents all the time, so sometimes we rush down to help,” Kanavaloff said. “This was the worst accident I’ve ever seen.”

Police have not determined whether drugs or alcohol played a role in the crash and are waiting for toxicology results, officials said.


JOSEPH SERNA may be reached at (714) 966-4619 or at joseph.serna@latimes.com.

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