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LITTLEROCK HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT KILLED IN COLLISION : SCHOOL MOURNS; TEEN WAS DAYS FROM GRADUATING.

Byline: Bhavna Mistry Daily News Staff Writer

Littlerock High School students observed a moment of silence Tuesday to mourn the death of a schoolmate, killed in a traffic accident four days before he was set to graduate.

Jonathon Robert Swaner, 17, of Littlerock was killed Monday night when his 1969 Volkswagen Beetle drifted in front of a pickup truck on Avenue S at 35th Street East as the boy drove to work at Lucky's Supermarket.

``For some reason he just drifted into the eastbound lane,'' said Deputy Mike Redding, traffic investigator. ``We don't know why but maybe his attention was diverted to something else.

``The impact was very close to being a head-on,'' said Redding. ``The driver of the truck was able to swerve a little; being in a Bug doesn't protect you from the force of a truck.''

The driver of the truck suffered minor injuries.

Students were told of their schoolmate's death during a morning announcement over the campus intercom by Principal Jeff Foster.

``There's a lot of grieving on campus today,'' said Foster. ``We're trying to get through this and deal with it as best as we can. It's been very difficult, for students and for the staff.''

Officials described Swaner as a good student, a volleyball player for four years and a wrestler for two years.

Foster said emotions were running high at the school, which on Friday will graduate its fourth senior class.

``There are a lot of tears, a lot of emotion,'' said Foster. ``I don't think we've had a death so close to graduation.''

While final plans are still in the works, school officials are hoping to memorialize Swaner by planting a rose bush in the school's memorial rose garden and acknowledge him during Friday night's graduation.

``It's unfortunate we have to do this,'' said Foster. ``With all the positives and anticipation that come with graduation and then you have the brutality of this loss. It really gives students a reality check.''

Ron Robledo, an 18-year-old senior, couldn't believe the news Tuesday morning. ``I just spoke to Jon yesterday,'' he said. ``I asked him to sign my yearbook and he said, `Not today, man, I'll sign it tomorrow.' ''

By Tuesday afternoon Robledo had created his own memorial to Swaner in his yearbook, citing his date of death above his class picture and writing the words ``Rest in Peace, Bro. We all love you down here.''

``It's so sad that it had to happen,'' said Robledo. ``Not just to him but to anyone. We were supposed to go to grad night at Disneyland tomorrow.''

Tony Ardon, 18, a senior who used to wrestle with Swaner and has known him since sixth grade, remembers Swaner as a funny guy who liked to tell jokes.

``In the tenth grade, he painted his hair blue but it was just temporary,'' said Ardon. ``That's just the kind of guy he was. He was fun to be around. He was a nice person who loved to tell jokes but would not offend anyone. He was so peaceful.''
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 12, 1996
Words:508
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