Less than five months after the tragic death of 13-year-old Ciara Smith, more than 100 friends and family dedicated a bench and a small county garden in her memory overlooking the ocean.
Smith died May 5 when she was struck by a Metropolitan Transit Authority bus along Pacific Coast Highway and Knob Hill Avenue while riding her bicycle with a friend. Within hours of the accident a makeshift memorial filled the nearby street corner with messages of love, flowers, candles and pineapples for the young girl who called herself the "pineapple princess."
In dedicating the bench and beautifying a portion of county land on the west side of The Esplanade at Knob Hill now called Ciara's Garden, city officials have created a permanent remembrance for a girl who touched many hearts.
“Unexpected tragedies have a way of bringing out the best in people,” said Mayor Bill Brand. “It's certainly happened here in Redondo Beach. The outpouring of love and togetherness this community has shown is really a bright reflection of Ciara and her family and all of her friends.”
Brand joined Redondo Beach city councilmembers, city staff and a dozen police and fire officials who blocked off a portion of The Esplanade on Wednesday afternoon between Knob Hill and Avenue A to commemorate the bench and garden with a ribbon cutting.
L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who helped fast-track Ciara's Garden, thanked Brand for coming up with the idea.
“I keep feeling sad about what happened," Hahn said. "I know that we as a community and her friends at school continue to feel the heartbreak. I can't imagine it as a mother and grandmother the heartbreak that you all will continue to feel.”
Hahn said the memorial on PCH was a “testament to how much she was loved by her family, her friends and neighbors," and she hoped the bench provided some "solace to her family, to a friend or anyone who might just want to stop, sit on the bench, think about Ciara and take a moment to look at the Pacific Ocean and be grateful for our lives and families.”
Ciara's father Barry Smith said it was an emotional day for the family and expressed gratitude for the love and support.
“All of Ciara's family and myself and Rose we're just so proud to be a part of this community,” he said. “To have gone through the hardest stuff you can possibly go through and be surrounded by the support and love from everyone is really amazing.”
He said tragedy has taught him the “moments we have are everything."
“It was one of the amazing things about Ciara in that she never took anything for granted,” Smith said.