Cameron Cook, 18-Year-Old Senior at JSerra Catholic High, Falls to Death From 57 Freeway Overpass

Updated after the jump: Ashley Bryan, the 24-year-old driver who caused Cook to fall off the overpass, was allegedly drunk at the time. She's now charged with vehicular manslaughter.

Update: JSerra Principal Tom Waszak "mourns this tragic loss."

An Orange County teen who took a fatal fall from a freeway overpass on Saturday night has been identified as 18-year-old Cameron Cook.

Cook, a Ladera Ranch resident, was a former student at JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, where he played tennis and graduated in June.

The California Highway Patrol reports that Cook was the passenger of a 2001 Chevrolet Camaro that crashed on the 57 North, just south of Katella Avenue, right before midnight. When he and the driver, also 18, exited the vehicle to inspect the damage, another person who had stopped to help advised the driver to turn on his emergency flashers. The Camaro was still jutting slightly into the righthand lane of the 57.

Just as Cook's friend climbed back into the car to follow these directions, the OC Register reports a tragic second leg to the midnight crash:

A few minutes later, a 1993 Honda Civic traveling north on the 57 struck the front left side of the Camaro. The force of the collision caused the Camaro to be pushed to the right, striking Cook and pushing him backward over the overpass railing.

Cook fell 50 to 60 feet onto a cement embankment below the freeway. He was declared dead at the UC Irvine Medical Center at 5 a.m. Sunday morning.

The driver of the Camaro suffered only minor injuries. Meanwhile, the driver of the Honda -- reported as a 24-year-old woman from Highland -- came away with "bruises to her right hand and a gouge to her right leg," CHP officers tell the Register.

Cook's friends took to Twitter yesterday to mourn his early death:

Cameron Cook, 18-Year-Old Senior at JSerra Catholic High, Falls to Death From 57 Freeway Overpass
Cameron Cook, 18-Year-Old Senior at JSerra Catholic High, Falls to Death From 57 Freeway Overpass

The Tennis Recruiting Network lists Cook as a top-notch tennis player set to graduate in 2011. Update: Weekly commenter shegirl3 says Cook actually graduated last year.

Did you know him, or witness the Saturday-night accident? Please share below.

Update: The following tribute has been posted to the JSerra High website:

The JSerra Catholic High School community is devastated and in mourning today after learning about the passing of scholar-athlete Cameron Cook.

I am sure that I speak for all of Cameron's 
teachers and friends at JSerra - this is a great tragedy to befall the 
JSerra community. Cameron was a really nice person who displayed the 
attributes of a high quality JSerra student. He was a hard working
 student who earned good grades and a top player on the tennis team. He 
also enjoyed sharing his athletic gifts by teaching young kids how to
 play tennis.

The entire JSerra community mourns this tragic loss. Our 
hearts go out to Cameron's family.

Tom Waszak

Principal

Update: The Register reports that Ashley Bryan, the Highland Park 24-year-old behind the wheel of the Honda, was arrested yesterday on suspicion of drunk driving.

Bryan is being held at the Orange County Jail for "gross vehicle manslaughter." Her bail's set at $100,000.

The teen driving the Camaro (with Cook as a passenger) was 18-year-old Logan Vescio. The circumstances of his initial accident are still under investigation.

From the Register:

[Cook] graduated from the school last year and was one of the top players on the school's 2010 varsity tennis team. He transferred to JSerra in his junior year from Tesoro High School in Las Flores, where he also played varsity tennis, said Keith Orahood, a JSerra tennis coach. ...

Cook also helped coach youth tennis clinics at the school for children ages 3 and a half to 12.

Weekly commenter Derek Tademy says of Cook: "We played basketball since 6th grade and i miss him already." R Taaffe adds: "Don't think he ever had a bad thing to say to or about anyone, really sweet kid."

Originally posted at 10:30 a.m.

[@simone_electra/swilson@laweekly.com]


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