Trabuco Canyon crash claims Saddleback freshman

(Andrew Bennett)

Micah Brown

For the second time this semester, a fatal automobile accident has taken away a member of the Saddleback College student body.

Mark Motley, 18, of Trabuco Canyon, was killed while driving his 2008 Ford Mustang on Live Oak Canyon Road in Trabuco Canyon on Tuesday, April 7. Passenger Zachary Raffety also died in the crash.

Motley was in his first year at Saddleback. Raffety, 17, was a junior at Santa Margarita Catholic High School, the school Motley had graduated from last year. Both teens were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.

According to friends and family members at the roadside memorial, Motley loved to play hockey and had worked at Starbucks to pay for his beloved Mustang.  His hockey stick leaned against a tree alongside crosses, candles, flowers, photos and written last goodbyes.

“I played hockey with him, and any little guy that got picked on was automatically taken care of and backed up because of him,” said Matthew Plese, 19, a student at University of California, Irvine and a friend of Motley. “He looked after anyone he met, whether it was on the rink, at school, or just when we hung out.”

Plese and his sister, Stephanie, both knew Motley well and testified to the quality of his personality and character.

“He never had just friends. He was always the best friend to everyone,” said Stephanie Plese, 17, a Tesoro High School student who had befriended Motley through his friendship with her older brother. “[He was] loved by so many, and he loved everyone right back twice as much.”

Motley and Raffety are the latest casualties in a series of fatal accidents that have occurred along Live Oak Canyon Road since 2007, according to the Orange County Register. The Register quoted California Highway Patrol Officer Eric Barnard as stating that the number of fatalities since 2007 is now at six.

The accident came as a shock to both Plese and his sister, who both remarked about his responsible tendencies.

“He never liked to speed, and never sped while we were in the car. He joked that he couldn’t afford a ticket, and didn’t like to waste gas,” said Matthew Plese.

In February, Saddleback students Alexander Hugard and Andrew Gorum, both 19, were killed instantly when a 2004 Kia, driven by Gorum, collided with a eucalyptus tree on Los Alisos Boulevard.

Both accidents claimed the lives of promising young men who had enjoyed life and had so much left to give. 

Motley, known by many as “Mots,” wore number 27 for the SMCHS Eagles hockey team and was the type of kid who made everyone feel like part of his extended family.

“He was like a brother to everyone he met. He was kind, thoughtful, and always there,” said Matthew Plese, who fondly remembered getting to drive Motley’s prized Mustang the day after Motley purchased it. “It’s just the kind of guy he was. [He] wanted to share everything with everyone.”

According to high school officials, a memorial service for Motley will be held at San Francisco Solano Catholic Church in Rancho Santa Margarita on Monday, April 13, at 1 p.m.