Darrington mourns a self-assured girl

DARRINGTON – Ashley Griffiths could fire a gun, remodel a house or catch a fish as well as any one.

But she was no tomboy.

In the tiny mountain town where she spent all 17 years of her life, Ashley’s trendy purses and pink nail polish were every bit as legendary as her powerful tennis swing.

The popular Darrington High School student who dreamed of one day earning a business degree died early Wednesday. Police say she lost control of her pickup truck, veered off the Mountain Loop Highway and slammed into a tree.

An 18-year-old classmate who was a passenger in the truck was treated for minor injuries at a nearby health clinic.

The accident’s cause remains under investigation.

Ashley was one of 66 students in the incoming senior class at Darrington High. Everyone knew her.

“Darrington feels like an emptier place,” said Teresa Stemme, whose son was Ashley’s friend.

On Thursday, flowers, an angel statue and a wood cross with “Ashley” written on it leaned against a tree where Ashley died. About 200 people had poured into her family’s home to share memories and offer their condolences.

Ashley was the only child of Jeff and OnaMae Griffiths. Family friends said the teen was exceptionally close with her mother. As they worked on household remodeling projects or went shopping, Ashley would talk with her mother about boys, school and her hopes and dreams, secrets many daughters doggedly protect.

Ashley grew up riding horses and helping her parents with their construction business.

The family once lived outside of town in a place they called “Ashley Estates.” When they moved inside city limits, Ashley helped build the cozy, wood-framed house.

“The one thing I can say about her is she loved her family very much,” Ashley’s aunt Donna Tackett said.

Her aunt on Thursday sat at the Griffiths’ kitchen table surrounded by friends.

Ashley “was always trying to make things better; make things work out,” she said.

In school, Ashley was a standout tennis player. She also had an artistic flair.

Last year she redesigned the yearbook. She replaced the traditional green-and-gold logger cover with a forest scene. For a title, she borrowed lyrics from a country song, highlighting Darrington’s roots: “Back where I come from.”

School secretary Val Smith said Ashley was a fun-loving girl who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind. She loved cruising through town in her beat-up gray pickup, waving at everyone she passed.

She did all the things boys typically do.

But her bedroom was all girl.

Dried roses dangled over her bed. A ceramic sculpture of a high-heel pump shoe was on one wall. Nearby were framed paintings of Paris street scenes and Carnivale masks.

On Thursday, a pair of blue jeans were crumpled by the door and a bottle of Gatorade, half empty, was on the dresser.

On the bottom shelf of Ashley’s bookcase was the binder where she had carefully preserved school work, starting in her freshman year. That’s something Darrington High School students do as a school project.

Ashley’s binder was three-quarters finished.

“All of us will be feeling a variety of emotions: shock, sadness, and confusion,” Principal Dave Holmer wrote in a letter to parents Thursday. “What is most important now is that we care for and support each other.”

Reporter Kaitlin Manry: 425-339-3402 or kmanry@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

More in Local News

An example of the Malicious Women Co. products (left) vs. the Malicious Mermaid's products (right). (U.S. District Court in Florida)
Judge: Cheeky candle copycat must pay Snohomish company over $800K

The owner of the Malicious Women Co. doesn’t expect to receive any money from the Malicious Mermaid, a Florida-based copycat.

A grave marker for Blaze the horse. (Photo provided)
After Darrington woman’s horse died, she didn’t know what to do

Sidney Montooth boarded her horse Blaze. When he died, she was “a wreck” — and at a loss as to what to do with his remains.

A fatal accident the afternoon of Dec. 18 near Clinton ended with one of the cars involved bursting into flames. The driver of the fully engulfed car was outside of the vehicle by the time first responders arrived at the scene. (Whidbey News-Times/Submitted photo)
Driver sentenced in 2021 crash that killed Everett couple

Danielle Cruz, formerly of Lynnwood, gets 17½ years in prison. She was impaired by drugs when she caused the crash that killed Sharon Gamble and Kenneth Weikle.

A person walks out of the Everett Clinic on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The Everett Clinic changing name to parent company Optum in 2024

The parent company says the name change will not affect quality of care for patients in Snohomish County.

Tirhas Tesfatsion (GoFundMe) 20210727
Lynnwood settles for $1.7 million after 2021 suicide at city jail

Jail staff reportedly committed 16 safety check violations before they found Tirhas Tesfatsion, 47, unresponsive in her cell.

Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin gives an address to the city council of her proposed 2024 budget at the Everett Police Department North Precinct in Everett, Washington on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Everett mayor presents balanced budget for 2024; future deficit looms

If approved by the City Council, the $438 million budget will fund more police staff, parks and infrastructure.

One of Snohomish County PUD’s new smart readers is installed at a single family home Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, in Mill Creek, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
PUD program seeks to make energy grid smarter for 380K customers

The public utility’s ConnectUp program will update 380,000 electric meters and 23,000 water meters in the next few years.

Ian Terry / The Herald A needle is picked up by a volunteer helping to clean Wiggums Hollow Park in Everett on Saturday, March 17. Photo taken on 03172018
Everett police target public drug use, netting 84 arrests since July

A review of dozens of jail booking records showed the vast majority of those defendants usually spent two days or less in jail.

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers speaks to the crowd during an opening ceremony at the new PAE2 Amazon Fulfillment Center on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
County releases $114.5M housing, behavioral health plan

The five-year plan would fund 700 affordable housing units and more diverse behavioral health options in Snohomish County.

Most Read