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Teen's struggle became community's struggle

He had a place deep in the hearts of many members of the Petaluma community as they followed his ups and downs in personal blogs and newspaper articles during an attempted recovery from a diving accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down.

And with time, many of them began to feel that his struggle with their struggle.

So, when Danny Cox, 19, died in a vehicle accident on Highway 101 near Novato on Sunday, the community was shaken. But his family members and friends who gathered the day after the accident clearly feel that his spirit lives on.

Danny Cox, 1992-2011

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"We used to call him our &‘angel boy' because he always had a childlike purity in his heart," said Emily Cox, one of his sisters. "He's still our angel boy, and always will be."

"The Petaluma community gave him so much support. I know that our angel boy will be watching over it in the future," said Maureen McGowan, his mother.

Cox already has helped to strengthen the community by bringing together people from all walks of life to rally for a good cause —?his recovery. This is part of his legacy, and consistent with his character. The stories told by his loved ones at Graffiti restaurant, owned by McGowan and her husband, Mark, showed that underlying Cox's playfulness, air of supreme confidence and chiseled body was a young man who cared deeply about others.

"Danny was the &‘real deal.' He had a kind of cockiness, but underneath it, he was very kind," said Landra Buchanan, a family friend.

Those gathered told stories about Cox helping out at Graffiti to make sure that customers were happy.

"He was in tune to other people and what they needed. He wasn't self-absorbed at all," Buchanan said.

Emily, 25, said that Cox, who was a track star at Petaluma High School, was an inspiration to many people.


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