With heavy hearts, family and friends gathered in San Diego’s Ramona area Saturday for an emotional memorial service dedicated to a 5-year-old girl who was killed after accidentally being struck by her mother’s van.
The memorial for Bella Noble was held at the Grace Community Church in Ramona.
“She was awesome, she was just like a firework,” said Bella's mother, Sheri Noble, describing her daughter at the service. “She lived short, but she lived bright.”
The service was open to the public because as the girl’s father, Bill Noble, told NBC 7 San Diego, his young daughter “loved everyone she met.”
A large crowd -- including family members, friends and Bella's kindergarten teacher -- packed the church for the little girl’s memorial.
Attendees remembered Bella as a sweet, happy, beautiful, beloved girl whose life was cut far too short. She loved music and dancing, and had learned how to read by the age of 4.
“She knew the ‘Single Ladies’ [song] by Beyonce to a T. It was impressive,” recalled Bella’s cousin.
The church was filled with yellow – yellow flowers, clothing, feathers and even yellow fingernails – because that was Bella’s favorite color.
Some stories about Bella brought smiles, while other memories brought tears.
“Bella had the opportunity to be loved by a wonderful mother, Sheri, and a wonderful father,” said one speaker through tears.
The Noble family – Bella’s brother, William, sister Destiny and parents Bill and Sheri – gathered on stage and thanked loved ones for attending the service.
And, while words can’t describe Sheri’s pain and emotions, the mother did step forward to share happy memories of her daughter.
After the ceremony, the family gathered outside to release butterflies to symbolize the soaring spirit of the 5-year-old.
Bella died on Oct. 17 after a tragic accident on Carnation Road in Ramona.
The girl’s family was visiting a friend’s house. Noble said Bella and her siblings were playing in the driveway, sitting on the back bumper of her mother’s van.
Unaware that the children were playing behind the vehicle, Bella’s mother backed the car up. As Bella jumped off the bumper, she was struck by the van – not once, but twice.
"She decided to jump off and it was a horrible accident," Bill Noble told NBC 7 right after the accident.
California Highway Patrol investigators said that when the mother felt a bump, she thought she may have struck the child.
"Not realizing she had run over her daughter, she pulled forward and struck her child a second time," a press release from officials stated.
When emergency crews arrived at the scene, Bella was not breathing. She was given CPR and was airlifted to Rady Children’s Hospital, where she died a short time later.
That night, Bella’s father described the kindergartner as “the most beautiful girl and just the sweetest spirit in the whole world.”
The heartbroken father also had a message for other parents:
"Just hug your kids. Love them. Make time for them," he said. "Do everything they ask you, even if you have to dress up funny, because you never know when they're not going to be here anymore."
At a vigil held for Bella on Oct. 20 outside a pumpkin patch in Ramona, Noble reiterated that important message, reminding parents to cherish the time they have with their children.
"Stop what you're doing, slow down and be there for your kids, because you're all they have and that's all you have really, when it comes down to it," he said.
The girl’s loved ones have established a benefit and memorial page for Bella online. There, people can learn about a special benefit concert being held in Bella's honor next month. The website also shares details about Bella's life and legacy, photos and information on how to donate to Bella's memorial fund.