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Teachers, friends remember teen killed in car accident

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Makeshift memorial: The Rock serves as a gathering spot for mourners

By Tris DeRoma

The last time classmate Maya Martinez saw her friend Nikolas Rian Ventura-Arencón, was Tuesday on a double-date with her boyfriend, Ventura-Arencón and his girlfriend, Divine Fellers, when they went to see the “Breaking Dawn” movie.

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The next day, Ventura-Arencón died in a head-on collision on N.M. 4. He was the only fatality in the two-car accident, which injured three other people, including his mother and Fellers. As of Friday, Fellers remained hospitalized in stable condition at UNM Hospital in Albuquerque.

“He was always there for his friends, and he would never say anything bad about anybody,” Martinez said at a Friday memorial for her late friend. The memorial was at the “The Rock” in White Rock, on the corner of Rover Boulevard and N.M. 4. Friends, teachers, parents and even people who didn’t even know him too well, gathered to pay their respects and to perhaps write something on the Rock, now a makeshift memorial.

An obituary posted by a local funeral home describes Ventura-Arencón as a Denver Broncos football fan who played all sports. He enjoyed skateboarding, wake-boarding, snowboarding, riding motorcycles, fishing and camping. Ventura-Arencón was a member of Los Alamos High School NJROTC and especially loved shooting and drill competitions.

“He had dreams and ambitions, as he wanted to be in the military and was applying to the New Mexico Military Institute. He liked to spend time at his grandparents land and drive their tractor. He enjoyed working with wood, fixing things and liked cooking for his mother,” according to information contained in the obituary. He also aspired to be a firefighter like his father, Diego Arencón who is president of the Albuquerque firefighter’s union.

According to members of the community who gathered to pay their respects at the Rock in White Rock Friday, Ventura-Arencón was 14 and his birthday was coming up Dec. 28. Santa Fe Sheriff’s Department had said earlier he was 13.

By all accounts, Ventura-Arencón was well-liked by everyone he met. He was also a stand-up guy, not an easy position to take for a 14-year-old who was just starting high school.

Martinez, who went to a different school, recounted how protective he was of his friends.

“That day, there was a lot of drama at my school,” Martinez said. “I was crying and I was scared to go. He took me aside and said ‘hey, those people don’t even know what they’re talking about, you’re an amazing person, so don’t even listen to them.’ He was about to get on the bus with me so I wouldn’t be so alone. He was just a really good person.”

He was a bit of a jokester too, according to Patrick Irish, a person who knew him through friends. “When I first heard about it, I didn’t want to believe it, I was hoping it was another one of his jokes,” he said.

Marcie Long, who teaches at the Los Alamos Middle School, remembered Ventura-Arencón as an inquisitive student. On the Rock, she wrote to him, telling him “not to ask too many questions in Heaven.”

Long was among many who stopped by the Rock Friday to remember Ventura-Arencón with a smile.

“He was one of those kids that wherever a teacher was, he was right there,” Long said. “He was always asking ‘what are we gonna do today? What’s on the agenda?’ and I’d always be telling him to go sit down,” Long remembered with a laugh.

As the afternoon wore on, about 20 of Ventura-Arencón’s friends and teachers had gathered to remember their friend and student. There were group hugs and prayers, but very few tears.

“He would have wanted us to be happy right now, instead of sad and crying,” Martinez said.

Funeral services for Ventura-Arencón will be Wednesday, Nov. 28, at 11 a.m. at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Los Alamos. The Los Alamos High School and Middle School will have grief counselors on hand Monday.

The full obituary for Ventura-Arencón is available by clicking here.