EVERETT — A Cascade High School freshman likely was looking for a shortcut home Sunday night when she darted into traffic on I-5.
Not far from the Everett Mall, 15-year-old Haley B. Salvador made it across four lanes of busy southbound traffic. She likely walked through the wooded median strip.
A flurry of 911 calls poured in to emergency dispatchers. It was about 8:45 p.m. and the day’s last light had faded. The drivers who called police said they were concerned about the teenager wandering in freeway traffic.
The girl made a dash across the northbound lanes. Two cars hit her.
Medics couldn’t revive her.
“Absolutely everybody that knew her loved her and is absolutely devastated that she’s gone,” said Chelsea Orias, 15, a classmate and friend of Haley’s.
Haley drew laughter from friends and made people feel better if they were upset, Chelsea said. Haley recently dyed her hair bright pink. She enjoyed raves and telling jokes about martial artist Chuck Norris.
Haley transferred to the Everett School District in January 2008. Before that she attended classes in the Lakewood School District.
“She was one of the most loving people I’ve ever met,” Chelsea said.
The Snohomish County medical examiner on Tuesday ruled Haley’s death an accident. Detectives from the Washington State Patrol continue to investigate, trooper Brandon Lee said.
Chelsea said she’s heard from friends that Haley was trying to take a shortcut.
“Killed just by trying to get home,” Chelsea wrote in a remembrance to her friend posted on heraldnet.com. “It breaks my heart.”
Cascade plans to have counselors available Monday, the day students are scheduled to return from spring break.
“Counselors will be on hand to assist students who need help coping with this tragedy,” said Cathy Woods, Cascade’s principal.
Haley may have been trying to avoid walking out of her way. Her options were to either head north, where she could cross the interstate at the Bothell-Everett Highway, or south to the 112th Street overpass.
Lynn Drake, who studies pedestrian safety for the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, warned of the dangers of freeways.
Teenagers are especially at risk of being hurt crossing roads, Drake said. Their bodies still are developing and they sometimes make poor decisions, not taking into consideration all the risks.
Judging the distance and speed of oncoming vehicles also can be challenging, she said.
In 2007, 22 people died statewide walking along or crossing state routes, according to state Department of Transportation statistics. The age group most at risk was people between the ages of 15 and 19.
In Snohomish County in 2007, three pedestrians were killed, the report said. That’s the most complete data available.
Snohomish County SafeKIDS spokeswoman Kristen Thornstenson said it’s important remind children of the dangers of crossing any road.
“It’s heartbreaking that something like this happened,” she said.
Haley could make anyone fall in love with her by just being herself, Chelsea said.
“Even being in her presence for a mere five minutes and you knew she was a very special and truly extraordinary girl,” she said. “She will be missed by many, many, many people.”
Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437, email@example.com