ALISO VIEJO — When her sons were little, Linda Burnett used to scavenge around the neighborhood for empty soda bottles, which she would then exchange for money to buy milk.
On one such occasion, Burnett, the mother of Chris and Michael De La Cruz, panicked when she dropped a milk bottle on the way home, Michael recalled.
"All she cared about was making sure we had enough to eat; she just wanted us to be happy," he told more than 150 mourners who gathered Tuesday morning at the Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Aliso Viejo for a memorial service for his mother and brother. "We had no money. She struggled to feed us. But I can never remember being unhappy."
Burnett, 69, of Santa Ana, and Chris De La Cruz, 49, of Laguna Niguel, were killed in a 10-car crash in Newport Beach on Jan. 15. De La Cruz's Toyota Tacoma was struck on West Coast Highway by an oncoming Ford Taurus that had allegedly veered onto the wrong side of the road. The Ford's driver, former high school track star Julie Allen, 27, of Newport Beach, also died.