Marysville school mourns girl, 15

By Jim Haley

Herald Writer

MARYSVILLE — For the second time in recent months, students and educators at Marysville-Pilchuck High School are in mourning for a student who died in an automobile accident.

Ariana Gallegos, a 15-year-old sophomore, was struck by a car Tuesday as she crossed a road, heading to a school bus stop. She later died at the hospital.

"She had quite a close group of friends here," principal Peggy Ellis said Wednesday. "She was a leader in Spanish class. She also was a wonderful girl in her relationships with other people."

Ariana had three young siblings, including a brother who also attends an elementary school in the Marysville School District.

How you can help

A fund has been established to assist the family of Ariana Gallegos, who was struck and killed by a car in Marysville. Contributions can be made at any Washington Mutual Bank branch. The account number is 339-2987725.

She was proficient in Spanish because she was born in Mexico and it’s her native language, Ellis said. The family has been in the Marysville area for about four years.

She frequently had lunch with Staci Tuck, head of the school’s world languages department. Ariana helped take care of the children of adults learning to speak English in a program at the district’s Liberty Elementary School, Ellis said.

She also was involved with a youth group at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Marysville, the principal added.

"She had a gift with helping young children," Ellis added. "She was a beautiful girl with a beautiful spirit."

Marysville police said the accident happened about 6:50 a.m. Tuesday in the 6700 block of Armar Road while the girl was walking to a school bus stop. The driver of the "boxy, 4-door" car that hit her didn’t stop, Detective Stacey Dreyer said.

Ariana was taken by helicopter to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where she died early Wednesday.

At about 2 p.m. the day of the accident, police arrested a 37-year-old Marysville woman for investigation of not stopping, a felony. The woman posted $5,000 bail early Wednesday morning and was released, said deputy prosecutor Randy Yates.

No charges have been filed.

Police arrested her after contacting several area auto body and windshield repair businesses and inquiring about excessive damage. There was evidence the collision left the car with front-end and windshield damage, Dreyer said. The woman had replaced the vehicle’s windshield, Dreyer said.

This is the second time in recent months Marysville-Pilchuck has been hit by tragedy as a result of traffic accidents.

In August, Cory Allen Haynes, 18, and Levi Whiting, 17, were killed when a car in which they were riding left Sunnyside Boulevard on a curve and rolled over repeatedly. Both had attended Marysville-Pilchuck.

At the school Wednesday, grief counselors were made available to students and staff members, said Dave Steelsmith, district spokesman. He said counseling also was provided at the elementary school where Ariana’s brother attends.

"Our kids are really touched by this, as is our staff," said Ellis, the principal.

A district-wide fund was established at Washington Mutual Bank to help Ariana’s family through this, Ellis said.

"We may be the biggest high school in the state, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have 2,800 big hearts," Ellis said.

It’s likely there will be a garden or a tree planted in Ariana’s name, she added.

Ellis drove Ariana’s mother to Harborview Tuesday morning. She, along with Tuck, school district Superintendent Linda Whitehead and others, spent Wednesday with Ariana’s family at the hospital.

She said Ariana’s family was treated well by hospital staff, doctors, a priest and others.

"As difficult as it was at Harborview, it really renewed my faith in what human beings can do for one another," Ellis said.

You can call Herald Writer Jim Haley at 425-339-3447 or send e-mail to haley@heraldnet.com.

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