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Family mourns loss of teen

By: Brandon Darnell, News Messenger Reporter
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Lincoln High School senior Justin Grich is remembered by family members as outgoing, having a love of helping others and hating being stuck indoors. The 18-year-old Roseville resident was pronounced dead at Sutter Roseville Medical Center Tuesday afternoon after succumbing to injuries received when he was hit by a car on his skateboard Monday evening on Sunset Boulevard West, said Officer Mark Williams with the Auburn California Highway Patrol. Williams said the accident remained in the early stages of the investigation, and that there was no indication that alcohol was a factor. Grich was set to graduate next week and planned on pursuing a career in the Coast Guard fighting smuggling and piracy, said Celina Harvey, his mother. “He wanted it so bad,” Harvey said Wednesday. Clinton Grich, Justin’s father, said the teen had always been shy, but when he started attending Lincoln High, he became more outgoing. “Lincoln High School was his best year of school,” Harvey said. “He enjoyed it so much.” Lynette Grich, Justin’s 21-year-old sister, will accept his diploma at the graduation ceremonies June 5. Harvey said Lynette Grich was Justin Grich’s best friend. “He was my best friend too,” Lynette Grich said. “I live in L.A., I talked to him every day on the phone. He always wanted us to take him to the beach.” Though Justin is gone, his family is calling him a hero for being a kidney donor. “Although we’ve lost Justin, he saved two lives today,” Harvey said. According to Harvey, Justin Grich had serious injuries to his head. “I really want to stress how important it is for kids to wear helmets,” Harvey said, adding that a helmet might have saved her son’s life. Justin Grich transferred to Lincoln High School from Woodcreek High School in Roseville for his senior year and worked at the Target store n Lincoln. Denise Graziani, Justin Grich’s aunt, said he was a fun-loving, free-spirited beach bum who loved to play his guitar and especially loved to fish. Clinton Grich said he took Justin on a fishing trip to El Salto Lake in Mexico Oct. 5. “He always used to dream of fishing there,” Clinton Grich said, “and he caught an eight-pound bass. You should have seen the look on his face. He was in heaven.” At Lincoln High School Wednesday morning, counselors were offering their services to students distraught over the loss of one of their classmates. “He was an awesome kid,” said Counselor Jim Spratling. “He was really well-liked.” Spratling said Grich had been at Lincoln High for only his senior year, and he had a lot in common with Grich, including a love for fishing. "He was always fun to be around, and he was adventurous," said Lincoln High School junior Brandon Rowland, who became friends with Grich this school year. Rowland said he and Grich would go skating on their longboards often, with their favorite places being Twelve Bridges and Sun City. "We built a potato cannon together that was pretty good fun until his mom took it away," Rowland said with a laugh. Daniel Ratajczak, engaged to Lynette Grich, said that when the first potato cannon failed, he showed Justin how to make a better one. “I was always the bad influence on him,” Radajczak said, “but always in a fun way.” Justin’s brother, 6-year-old Raymond Harvey, said he has fond memories of when Justin would watch him. “I liked the trampoline because he would bounce on it with me,” Raymond said. A visitation for Justin Grich will be held 4-8 p.m. Tuesday at the Lassila Funeral Chapel in Auburn, with services the following day at 10 a.m., after which he will be interred in the Lincoln Cemetery. All of Justin’s friends are invited, Celina Harvey said, and the services will be casual – Justin would have preferred Hawaiian shirts and board shorts. She added that she does not want attendees to come wearing all black or suits. “I could go on and on about Justin,” Celina Harvey said. “He was such a good person and always had a smile on his face.” Nathan Donato-Weinstein contributed to this article. Brandon Darnell can be reached by e-mail at brandond@goldcountrymedia.com.