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Michael Jackson: Student leaders flock to hospital

June 25, 2009 |  5:29 pm

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Several hundred people gathered on the sidewalk outside the emergency room at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center this afternoon after Michael Jackson's death.

“Was that Janet Jackson going by?” asked Madison Rightley, a 15-year-old junior from Albuquerque, who was in town for the National Youth Leadership Forum at UCLA. “She was in a black car covering her face.”

Rightley said she was a longtime fan of Jackson’s music, dancing with her drill team to his songs at St. Pius X High School.

“It’s important to pay your respects to his family,” she said, explaining why she was standing outside the emergency room, “especially if you liked his music.”

Another student at the forum, Dalton Valerio, a 17-year-old senior from Cibola High School in Albuquerque, said they learned Jackson had a cardiac arrest from an emergency technician teaching at the youth forum.

”He had just heard from his colleagues,” Dalton said. “He was so talented. We’re a little younger. But we love his music. It’s on my iPod.”

Madison added: “It’s legendary. I’m pretty sure everyone has him on their iPods.”

 Yara Larijoni, 27, an attorney, sat on a curb outside the emergency room next to her mother, Sadra, 55. They had come to the hospital “the second they said he was dead,” Yara said.

“I guess we just wanted to be part of it,” she said.

Her mother said she was hoping the report was not true. They both said they were big fans of Jackson’s music.

“I grew up in Europe,” Yara said. “He was all over the place.”

“He was really genius,” Sadra said.

“We were going to go to the concert in London,” Yara said. “But they postponed it.”

-- Carla Hall in Westwood

Photo by Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

Fans grieve worldwide
Photos: Fans grieve worldwide

Michael Jackson, 1958-2009
Photos: Michael Jackson, 1958-2009

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