While driving on Burn Road midway between Granite Falls and Arlington, students from Granite Falls High School have transformed a tree into a memorial for one of their friends.
In the early morning last Tuesday, Dec. 8, Shaylynn Wiestersen, 16, was riding in a Jeep Cherokee with her brother Brian Wiestersen, 17, heading south on Burn Rd. outside of Granite Falls. The siblings were headed to school at Granite Falls High School.
As they neared the 13300 block of Burn Road, a Toyota 4Runner tried to pass their vehicle. “The Toyota 4Runner was trying to pass the Jeep and the two vehicles collided; the Jeep went off the road and struck a tree,” Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Rebecca Hover said. Shaylynn was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center with critical injuries, she died later that night. Brian suffered minor injuries and was taken to a local hospital for evaluation. The 17-year-old male driver of the 4Runner was not injured.
Students at Granite Falls High School were shocked and saddened by the news, but school officials have been providing support for students, teachers and their families.
“Students have made giant cards and posters, a fleece blanket with messages, written letters, and brought in flowers/balloons/stuffed animals, all of which will be forwarded to the family,” Granite Falls School District spokesperson Kathy Grant said. “The entire staff has been remarkable working with the kids and at the same time supporting each other. Teachers spent time yesterday in the classrooms talking with students and allowing them to ask questions and talk with each other. The counseling center offered a quiet place for students to begin the healing process. It was an incredibly sad day, but very respectful and caring.”
The school district sent emails to parents and will provide counseling to those who may need it. They suggest parents look for signs of grief including the child claiming not to be affected, if they ask a lot of questions, act agitated and angry, try abnormally hard to be good, withdraw or have bad dreams.
“If your child wants to talk, listen. Answer questions simply, honestly, and possibly over and over again,” Grant said. “The school counselors are available to all students and family members as we all work through this loss together.”
The accident remains under investigation. “Speed and improper passing (this is a no-passing zone) appear to be factors in the crash,” Hover said. “No citations have been issued and no arrests have been made at this time.”