The following is a letter from Santa Monica Mayor Ted Winterer addressing the recent deaths of three young people in the community. 

I received the devastating news of the tragic circumstances that led to the death of Samohi freshman Andre Zuczek on Sunday from my daughter, who was his classmate in middle and high school. I got this news just as I was preparing to visit the family of Juan Castillo, who also recently left us at too young an age. These recent deaths, and the passing of Kelly Cano, are profoundly saddening, as no community should lose so many young people in such a short span of time. My heart aches for the families and friends who will be immersed in grief for years to come.

Losing a young life is crippling for a family, for peers, and for the entire community. This is a moment to talk to your kids about the realities of drug use as the Zuczek family so bravely encouraged. It’s also a time to express gratitude for the organizations that step in to provide critical therapeutic support. And more importantly, it’s a time to honor the lives of Andre, Juan, and Kelly, and to share our deepest condolences with their families. Santa Monica is behind you.

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