By: Carolyn Cooke
Family Security Matters
Editor’s note: This is the next in a continuing series about the forgotten victims of illegal alien crime – weekly stories you do not see in the mainstream media.
America’s Most Forgotten is dedicated to all of the innocent people and their families who have been victimized by illegal aliens as a result of the refusal of our elected officials to enforce United States immigration law and to secure our borders. Americans remain unprotected from this unwanted invasion of unidentified people from across the world. No region of the country has been spared and the citizens presented come from all walks of life. Crisscrossing the nation, we have a predominantly African-American neighborhood in LA, then we skip to an affluent, successful woman in New York City and then to a rural Mississippi family hoping to escape big city crime and then to a Native American in small town. And on, and on, and on…
On December 23, 2006, Gary Ceran played a convincing Bob Cratchit, the father of Tiny Tim, in a local theater production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Caleb Ceran, 12 years old, and Clarissa Ceran, 17 years old, performed alongside their father as two of his fictional children. They shared his interest in the performing arts. In attendance at the Hale Center Theater production were the rest of the family, wife Cheryl and their two children, Ian, 15, and Julianna, 7.
After the performance, the Ceran family stopped at Walmart for some last-minute Christmas shopping, and then drove home to Cedar Hills, Utah, to celebrate Christmas. At around 2:30 a.m. on December 24th, Carlos Prieto, an illegal alien, intoxicated and driving without a license, ran a red light and broadsided the Ceran vehicle. Cheryl and Ian were killed instantly. Their littlest child, Julianna, died from her injuries after being transported by helicopter to Primary Children’s Medical Center. The rest of the family suffered injuries requiring hospitalization. The wreckage of the vehicle was wrapped around Clarissa’s legs and Caleb suffered from a shoulder injury, broken ribs, and a fractured pelvis.
Gary Ceran had a leg injury as a result of the collision but he scrambled from the wreckage to check on his family. He recalled holding Ian’s head on his lap and stroking his hair as blood poured from his face. Ian had no pulse. He found no sign of life in his wife either.
Clarissa, a dance major at Brigham Young University, turned 19 on December 26, 2006, in her hospital room. She was able to take small steps and wiggle her toes. This was nothing short of a miracle. Gary Ceran said, “It’s absolutely astonishing to me, not that just that she lived, but I really thought her legs would be lost. When you look at the vehicle and her door and how the car is pushed from the passenger side to the middle of the car, it’s absolutely amazing she’s alive…” Clarissa had dreamed of becoming a dancer.
The Ceran family was described as “the greatest family you could probably ever meet” by a family friend. According to the Daily Herald, five hundred visitors came to the hospital within the first 24 hours after the accident.
The Ceran family belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Gary drew upon a deep faith in God and the support of others to get himself and his remaining son and daughter through their terrible ordeal. Gary believed the ones who survived “were the ones most able to cope with the loss of the others.”
Gary Ceran forgave Preito. He believed it was the right thing to do and quoted scripture from the Bible on forgiveness. Mr. Ceran said, “I want Carlos to know I forgive him,” Ceran said through tears. “Hasn’t there been enough suffering?”
Gary Ceran memorialized his wife and two children in their obituaries. Of his beloved wife Cheryl he wrote, “…Cheryl Lynn Ceran (47) was in a heart-wrenching instant ripped from the arms of her loving family in a tragic car accident…No tongue can speak, neither can there be written by man, neither can the hearts of men conceive of the joy which filled our souls in the time she was with us…she was the sun that brought light to my life…”
“Julianna Janae Ceran, our little princess…joined in death by the two people who could in no way bear her parting, she has taken her pure heart, warm smile, and sweet sense of humor to a far better place…” Gary wrote.
Of Ian, Gary eulogized, “…Ian was an extraordinary teen. A man in every way, with the heart and smile and innocence of a child, he was as Christlike a young man as I have every known…Nearly done with his Eagle award and ready to graduate as a sophomore so he could finish a bachelor’s degree before his mission, he was a gifted artist and pianist and composed numerous songs…He loved the Savior, the gospel, his family, sacred music, sword fighting, and BYU football. But his heart was especially tender for his mother and his little sister who joined him on his journey back home…And we long for the day when he will once again throw his arms around us in all his exuberance and joy…We will miss you buddy! Ian is survived by an older sister Clarissa, a younger brother Caleb and a father who will never forget the gentle giant he became.”
As her family members were laid to rest, Clarissa played a recording made by her brother in which he said, “I know that family can be together forever.”
Clarissa and Caleb both know their family will be reunited in heaven. Caleb stated, “I’m so grateful that I get to see my family again. They’re so happy right now.”
The remarkable strength and unwavering faith of Gary Ceran carried Clarissa and Caleb through this devastating ordeal. Gary also credits the support and prayers of the many hundreds of people who reached out to them in their time of tragedy.
Gary and Cheryl Ceran had already lost five children. A set of twins were stillborn and three others died from a rare genetic brain tumor at early ages.
Carlos Preito, a Mexican national who was uninjured in the crash, had a blood alcohol level over twice the legal limit in Utah. Prieto had two prior arrests for drunk driving and a 2004 arrest for speeding and driving without a license. His immigration status went unchecked in all cases until he murdered innocent Americans. Carlos Prieto ignored the laws of the United States of America when he illegally crossed our border and defied state laws against drinking and driving as well.
Preito pleaded guilty to three counts of vehicular homicide. He was sentenced to five years for each of the three counts. Two of the five year sentences will run simultaneously. Preito will serve 10 years in prison, less than the maximum 15-year sentence. He will then be turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
One Christmas Eve, 2006, half of the Ceran family was killed in a drunk driving incident by an unchecked illegal immigrant because our federal government meets the demands of the special interest groups to keep our borders open and our immigration laws unenforced. The federal government continues to behave as though the lives of innocent Americans are of no consequence as tragedies such as this continue to mount.
Americans should not have to live in fear in their own neighborhoods.
Enforcement legislation, passed by a few states, has led illegal aliens to leave because the magnets of jobs and taxpayer benefits have been removed. This is a dirty little secret that elected officials in Washington on both sides of the aisle do not want you to know.
Are you concerned about this epidemic of death at the hands of illegal aliens? Tell your elected officials what you think.