Friends gathered Wednesday night to mourn the death of University junior Rebecca Yacob.
Yacob, 21, was killed in a car wreck around 2:30 a.m. Sunday, just four blocks from her Apple Valley home. Police said the driver of the other vehicle was drunk.
The service in Coffman Union Theater was short, with a moment of silence to open. Friends took to the stage to share memories and implore those in attendance to consider the consequences of drunken driving.
“Life is too short and please enjoy every moment of it,” said African-American history and marketing education junior Mekdes Mekuria.
Mekuria had been close friends with Yacob for three years. Mekuria said she could describe Rebecca in one word: “incredible.”
“She was everything a friend can ask to have in life,” she said. “She was always smiling and so positive and so alive. She will always be with us in our hearts, and we will always love her.”
Yacob was driving home from a celebration with her goddaughter, friends said. She was set to depart to Rome as a part of a study abroad program at noon the next day. Friends were to greet her upon her return in Miami on Memorial Day weekend.
Yacob was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and came to America in 1998 with her family after completing middle school.
She graduated from Apple Valley High School in 2004, and with a slate of good grades took on a double major in global studies and international business and a minor in political science at the University.
Political science, global studies and criminology junior Sosena Alemayehu recalled Yacob’s concentration on her schoolwork, where she earned more than a 3.5 GPA, and had lofty ambitions.
“She wanted to be in the United Nations,” Alemayehu said. “She was trying to embrace culture.”
According to sociology junior Mark Acesor, that was Yacob’s very philosophy.
“I think the message she would say is live life for today because tomorrow is never promised,” he said. “She was just a great person. She was a loving, caring person.”
According to a criminal complaint, a 1999 Ford F-150 pickup ran a red light and smashed into Yacob’s 2005 Toyota Camry, pushing it through the intersection and into a light pole.
Paramedics pronounced Yacob dead at the scene.
The driver was identified as 19-year-old Logan McFarland of Eagan. Three other teens accompanied McFarland in the pickup. The passengers had visible injuries and were transported for medical evaluation but were soon released.
The criminal complaint alleges that McFarland was heavily intoxicated and belligerent at the time of the crash. He was placed in the back of a squad car after a struggle with officers. According to the complaints, McFarland said, “I just wanted to drive my friends home,” at the scene of the accident.
During an evidentiary blood draw at Apple Valley Medical Center, police said McFarland became physically abusive and tried to head-butt an officer while being restrained.
McFarland faces a 10-year charge on two counts of vehicular homicide and three counts on criminal vehicular operation resulting in bodily harm.
McFarland appeared in court Tuesday, where a judge set bail at $150,000.
Police said the front seat passenger verified McFarland and the other passengers had been drinking in McFarland’s Apple Valley apartment. Witnesses claimed the pickup appeared to be driving “at an excessive rate of speed” before striking Yacob’s vehicle.
Dakota County Sgt. Joe Shaw said tests on McFarland’s blood- alcohol level are still in the lab.
“Hopefully the system will do what it needs to do,” Shaw said.