KSL-TV
Gary and Cheryl Ceran, top, with their children Caleb, Clarissa, Ian and Julinna. Cheryl, Ian and Julianna died.

CEDAR HILLS — Prayers, money and homemade meals may seem like small Christmas presents to give a Utah County family who lost a mother and two children to an accused drunken driver Christmas Eve — but they're coming in abundance.

"We're just keeping them in our thoughts and prayers," said Wyn Datwyler, a friend and neighbor of the Ceran family from Cedar Hills. "We're just wanting them to know they're not alone."

Datwyler and Janece Vance, another neighbor and friend from the Cerans' church ward, left a note on the family's door with an offer of a homemade meal. Below the note, a giant poinsettia graced the step.

Cheryl L. Ceran, 47, her 15-year-old son, Ian Ceran, and 7-year-old daughter Julianna Ceran were killed early Christmas Eve, police said, when a pickup truck ran a red light and collided with the family's passenger car at the intersection of 5400 South and 700 West in Murray. All three were sitting in the front seat of the car. Police say the driver of the pickup truck was intoxicated.

Husband Gary Ceran, 45, the couple's 12-year-old son, Caleb Ceran, and 18-year-old daughter, Clarissa Ceran, suffered non-life-threatening injuries. All three were in the back seat of the car.

The family was headed home to Cedar Hills after attending the cast party for "A Christmas Carol" and then doing some last-minute Christmas shopping.

As a benefit to the family, the Hale Centre Theatre will stage two additional performances of its new production "See How They Run" Friday at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

"It's the only thing that we can think of to do, at $15 a ticket, and we'll just roll with it," said Sally Dietlein, executive producer for Hale Centre Theatre, where Ceran played the role of Bob Cratchit in "A Christmas Carol." Caleb and Clarissa also acted in the play.

Tickets for Friday's special performances will cost $15 with all money going to the family. Tickets for the shows can be purchased by calling the West Valley theater at 801-984-9000.

The Cerans' ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is also rallying together and plans to set up a trust fund in the family's name.

Greg Kofford, the LDS bishop of the family's former ward, the Cedar Hills 13th Ward, described the family as the "greatest family you could probably ever meet."

Kofford described Gary Ceran as a giving, loving person and Cheryl Ceran as a soft-spoken, kind mother who home-schooled her children.

Clarissa Ceran is a student at BYU studying dance, which makes her leg injuries all the more difficult, Kofford said. She is scheduled to undergo an MRI today.

"She had the whole car wrapped around her legs," Kofford said. "It was a twist of metal."

Caleb has been released from Primary Children's Medical Center, although he and his father are still at University Hospital for Clarissa. Caleb has a fractured pelvis, fractured rib and is in a lot of pain, "but yet he's always with a smile," Kofford said.

The Ceran family has dealt with their share of heartache. The family lost a set of twins at birth and three other children to a rare genetic disorder that caused fatal brain tumors, Kofford said.

Murray Police detective Kenny Bass said no additional information was available Monday on the 24-year-old man being held in connection with the 2:24 a.m. crash. Police still were not certain where Carlos Rodolfo Prieto is from or whether he has had any prior history of drunken driving.

Prieto remained in the Salt Lake County Jail on Monday. Police said he is expected to be charged with three felony counts of vehicular homicide and three misdemeanors — driving under the influence, driving without a license and running a red light.


E-mail: sisraelsen@desnews.com; zman@desnews.com