Memorial held for man killed in wrong-way crash on SR-52: Special tribute held for Jayme Midlam

Dozens of Volkswagen enthusiasts honored Midlam

SAN DIEGO - Family and friends of a 25-year-old man who was killed when a suspected drunken driver slammed into his car came together on Saturday to say their final farewells.

As mourners filled the Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Clairemont on Saturday afternoon, other people who never knew Jayme Midlam were paying their own special tribute to him in front of the church.

Dozens of Volkswagens -- more than 50 in all from three different San Diego VW clubs -- processed through the streets of Clairemont and stopped outside the church where Midlam's funeral was held.

Last week, Midlam was driving his own VW Beetle on state Route 52 near Santee when a pickup truck going the wrong way slammed into his car head-on. Midlam was killed instantly.

"We had somebody die in a Volkswagen and I was asked to get some Volkswagens together to pay tribute to a fallen brother... and I didn't have a problem doing that," said organizer Rusty Leininger.

Like nearly all the VW owners, Leininger did not know Midlam, but there was a strong spirit of camaraderie among the VW enthusiasts. All of them put signs in their windows which read, "RIP Jayme Midlam, 'our VW brother.'"

"We all come from a family – a humble family I guess you could say – so it's good to see all the rest of San Diego VW enthusiasts come out," said VW owner Maurice Gangoy.

In front of the church, there was also a large UPS truck which served as a tribute from the company that Midlam worked for. 10News learned it was the very truck that Midlam would load with parcels day in and day out.

Inside the little church, it was standing room only as friends and family paid their respects to a young man who had most of his life ahead of him.

The driver of the pickup truck was later identified by authorities as 23-year-old April Thompson. Earlier this week, she pleaded not guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter. She is being held on $250,000 bail.

Midlam's best friend, Kyle Webster, told 10News he hopes Saturday's sad scene is a reminder to everyone to not drink and drive. He said the scene inside the church was inspiring and heartbreaking.

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