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A thousand mourn bright light

By June 2, 2005June 4th, 2021No Comments

The Orange County Register | May 28, 2005

By Rachel Olsen

Special to the Register
SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO – The last words Gillian Sabet told her best friend before she died were, “I love everyone.”

With about 1,000 mourners looking on Wednesday morning, Ashley Melbourne recalled her final conversation with Gillian.

She also shared her confusion as to why God had spared her life and not Sabet’s in the May 26 accident that killed the 17-year-old San Clemente girl and her boyfriend, and injured four teens, including Melbourne.

“I keep asking myself why I was the driver, why my life was spared,” said Melbourne, 16, of Aliso Viejo.

Family members and friends spoke at the memorial service about the friendly, energetic girl who won the election for student body president at JSerra High School and was to be named queen of the school’s spring dance on the day she died.

Throughout the two-hour service at the Mission San Juan Basilica, they fondly recalled the light and kindness that radiated from their friend, sister and daughter.

Sabet, known as “Jill,” was an avid collector of purses. Kay Ostensen, a family friend, recalled that aside from the purses the family knew about, Sabet had 50 more under her bed.

She loved her teachers and aspired to become one. She was bilingual – speaking Spanish – and loved to snowboard.

The Rev. Vincent Gilmore, Sabet’s religion teacher at JSerra, compared her to the light of the Gothic cathedrals – which they were learning about in class at the time of her death.

“Next time I go into a Gothic cathedral and see a window with its light, I will think of Jill because she was a temple of light,” Gilmore said.

Sabet and her boyfriend, Jonathan Schulte, 16, of Orange, were killed when Melbourne’s sport utility vehicle rolled over along the San Joaquin Hills (73) Toll Road.

The teens were on their way to a “Spring Fling” dance on a cruise out of Newport Harbor.

Before the service, Sabet’s mother, Donna, remembered her daughter.

“She wasn’t perfect, but she was perfect to us.”

Most of the things Sabet did wrong were endearing, her mother said, like talking too much.

Her daughter got a cell-phone violation at school the day before she died, her mom said. She was widely known at JSerra for those violations because she never turned off her phone, her mom said.

Whether she forgot or was afraid she’d miss a text message, her mother didn’t know.

Esther Borges, Sabet’s elementary-school teacher for five years, described the girl to mourners as her princess. She said she didn’t know who taught each other more.

Borges remained close to Sabet, promising her that she would attend her high school and college graduations.

“Today we celebrate your graduation as an angel,” Borges said. “I know you are the brightest … and happiest there.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Sabet was buried at Fairhaven Memorial Park in Santa Ana – next to her older brother, who died of cancer.

“Our children are the light in our home (and) Jill burned so bright. … I don’t know what it will be without her,” Donna Sabet said.

Memorial services for Jonathan Schulte will be at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Norbert Catholic Church, 300 E. Taft Ave., Orange, with a rosary at 7:30 tonight.