A somber crowd, many of them in blue “Silva Plumbing” Little League sweatshirts, gathered at Vine Hill Park in Napa Tuesday night to honor the Horn family, which lost four members in a hit-and-run crash in San Pablo last Saturday.
Killed in the crash were Daryl Horn, 50, his son Joe Horn, 14, from Napa, and Troy Biddle, 52, and his son Baden Biddle, 12, from Washington state.
Daryl Horn was well known in local youth baseball circles from his time as a coach with the Napa Valley Baseball Club. Joseph Horn was a student at Redwood Middle School. The Biddles, who are related to the Horns, are from Bainbridge Island, Washington.
The sole survivor of the wreck was Daryl Horn’s son, Jared, a former baseball star at Vintage High School and a current sophomore at UC Berkeley. He pitches for the Golden Bears.
Law Enforcement Chaplain Lee Shaw tried to console the crowd and invited mourners to offer tributes.
“He made everyone happy – he was never negative about anything,” said one of Joe’s Redwood classmate. She and another girl shared stories about Joe dressing up in wacky costumes, rapping to a Beastie Boys song and always making people laugh.
“He was the funniest,” said a friend who has known him since the first grade.
“He was a true leader,” said Maryanne Christoffersen, principal of Redwood Middle School. He had a “beautiful light” inside him and was always very caring toward others, she said. “We’re gonna really, really miss him,” she said, eliciting tears from the crowd as she tried to hold her own back.
“He wasn’t afraid to be who he wanted to be … (to) express himself,” shared another student.
With candles in hand, the gathering of more than 100 people marched past houses decorated for Christmas to the Horn’s family home. The crowd spilled into the road, the light from the candles illuminating the family’s front yard.
A choir lined up around the Horn’s porch to sing “The Very Best Time of the Year,” a Christmas song about enjoying time with family and friends.
The sound of sniffling could be heard underneath the music as the group outside the home cried together, many of them embracing one another.
Before those participating in the makeshift memorial scattered, Denise Horn, Daryl’s widow and Joe’s mother, decided to address the crowd, thanking them for their comfort and support.
“I just feel so blessed,” she said. “I know how much you loved (the family) … please know that it’s reciprocated back.”
“Take care of each other,” she said.
After a shout of “We love you, Denise,” the “mighty plumbers” approached the porch, armed with plungers and hugs.
For years, Daryl Horn had encouraged the Napa Little League team, Silva Plumbing, to embrace the plumber and even handed out plungers decorated in the team’s colors.
The group stood by Jared, held up their plungers and chanted, “Wick, wack, plumber’s crack.”