Student fatality clouds grad day
Absence of very popular student will be felt by all
The usual fun and happiness of graduation day for Williams High School students was clouded over by a tragic fatal accident that occurred on May 27, prematurely taking the life of one of the school's own ‹ 15-year-old female freshman and Williams resident Dulce Davalos.
According to Williams Police Department Officer Tad Wygal ‹ first on the scene ‹ and other WPD personnel, Davalos and three other juveniles were riding in the back of a late model full-sized pickup truck going eastbound on Edison Avenue at Boyd Street at about noon when the accident occurred. Reports say the youths were engaging in a last-day tradition of throwing water balloons.
Details are sketchy, but apparently Davalos, who was sitting on the side rails of the truck bed as opposed to in the bed itself, fell out of the vehicle upon acceleration, was struck by one of the vehicle's rear tires, receiving fatal injuries. River Medical Ambulance crews responded and soon after, transported Davalos to an emergency helicopter landing area nearby where she was pronounced dead. Another juvenile who was also seated on the side rails fell out, but only received minor injuries.
"While there's no law that prohibits people riding in the back of pickup trucks, it's not safe to have people back there," said WPD Interim Chief Dan Barnes, also on the scene. "I do not recommend it, but if they are going to be riding in the back of pickup trucks, they need to be sitting in the bed, not on the sides."
As for those at WHS, both staff and students are still feeling the loss and the shock of the situation.
"It's real hard, because we talk to the students about the end of the year. It should be fun, but also it should be controlled and you have to think," WHS Principal Bob Kuhn said, adding that Davalos will be sorely missed. "She was a great kid and she was a freshman who was very well liked at the school. Frankly, I'm at a loss for words."
In an attempt to help students cope with the situation as best as possible, school counselors were immediately made available that afternoon. At the evening's senior graduation ceremonies, a moment of silence was taken for Davalos.
"It hits hard. It makes you realize how precious life is and how quick things can change," Kuhn says.
As of press time the driver, 19-year-old Felicia Ortiz, had not been cited, but the case remains under a joint WPD/Arizona Department of Public Safety investigation.
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