By Sharon Salyer Herald Writer
STANWOOD — Extra counselors were sent to Twin City Elementary School on Tuesday to help students cope with the loss of a classmate.
Third-grader Sandra Ochoa, 9, was killed in an accident Sunday in Eastern Washington that also claimed the lives of her 4-year-old sister and her parents, all from Stanwood.
The other victims were Gabriel Ochoa, 35, and Dioselina Buenrostro, 33, and their other daughter, Yesenia “Jessie” Ochoa.
School staff worked over the weekend to help students and teachers cope with the loss when they returned Tuesday, said Superintendent Jean Shumate in a statement.
“My prayers go out to family and friends,” Shumate added. “What a tragedy.”
Details of the accident are unclear. It occurred near George east of Ellensburg about 8 a.m. Sunday when the family’s SUV collided with a hatchback. The driver of that car suffered minor injuries.
The family’s car struck a guardrail and landed in an irrigation canal, according to the Grant County sheriff’s office. The car was pulled about 100 yards downstream with the current.
Gabriel Ochoa and Dioselina Buenrostro both died at the scene. The two children later died at Quincy Valley Medical Center.
Grant County Sheriff Tom Jones called it the single most tragic accident of his 21-year career.
Gabriel Ochoa worked at Stangeland Farms just east of Stanwood for more than seven years, helping milk some of the farm’s 750 cows, said Janet Stangeland, the farm’s owner.
Gabriel Ochoa came to the farm looking for a job “and we had an opening,” Stangeland said.
“He showed up on time, did his job and had a very nice family,” she said.
Stangeland said her grandson attended school with Sandra Ochoa for the past three years.
Stangeland found out about the death Sunday morning. She said Ochoa and Buenrostro had relatives in Eastern Washington.
“I feel sorry for the extended family,” she said.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or firstname.lastname@example.org