BELLINGHAM - Friends and classmates of a Squalicum High School senior who died in a car crash Sunday, Jan. 5, said the school will not be the same without her smiling in the halls.
Friends talked fondly about Hannah Dashiell's smile and her optimistic outlook Monday, as they gathered to remember the 17-year-old at a lunch-time tailgating event in her honor in the Barkley Haggen parking lot. She worked at the store and always had a cheerful wave for fellow students who stopped by.
"She was always so happy and nice and considerate, and she never judged anyone," friend and fellow senior Jessica King said. "The world is going to be worse without her."
Dashiell was a big part of the school community, and her passing has left an emptiness in the school, King said. She was an honor roll student, senior class vice president, a cheerleader, a member of the drama club and the manager of the girls' soccer team.
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She also spent hundreds of hours volunteering for the Seattle Cancer Society and was working on starting up a Bellingham brain cancer walk.
"She really touched everyone in some aspect," senior John Zender said. "It's really heartbreaking. It's really hard to lose someone so close to everyone. We miss her. We all loved her."
Zender remembered a girl who was always happy, always smiling, whether she spotted you at Haggen or in the halls at school.
"She was the nicest person you could every meet," Zender said. "She was very welcoming."
Dashiell was driving her light blue 1970 Volkswagen Beetle to work just before 10 a.m. Sunday, when the car slid on the icy Barkley Boulevard hill and skidded into the oncoming lane near Brandywine Way.
The passenger side of her car was broadsided by a Toyota Tacoma coming the other direction, and the VW immediately caught fire. Onlookers tried but were unable to get her out because of the damage to the car and the intense fire, according to the Bellingham Police Department.
Dashiell was knocked unconscious in the crash and likely died from the toxic smoke of the fire without ever regaining consciousness, said Whatcom County Medical Examiner Gary Goldfogel.
There is no indication that she was at fault in the crash. The driver of the truck was not injured or at fault. Barkley had been sanded overnight before the crash and often has issues with icy conditions, Lt. Rick Sucee said.
Friends and fellow students were still in shock on Monday, and the Bellingham School District brought in grief counselors to help students and staff cope.
Students wore purple to school on Monday and were encouraged to wear the color to the Squalicum High boys' basketball game Monday night. It was her favorite color, Zender said.
Dashiell recently had been accepted into the honors program at Portland State University, said Principal Keith Schacht, who believed she planned to study medicine. He described Dashiell as a hard-working student who was gracious, genuine and kind.
Members of Squalicum's girls' soccer team described Dashiell as a devoted manager and friend. Player Brooklyn Bell remembered the time Dashiell convinced her to go to homecoming and even lent her a dress for the dance. It ended up being an amazing night, she said, laughing as she thought of Dashiell's dance moves.
She just had a way of bringing people together, Bell said, and that spirit influenced the culture at the school, where she won an award for character.
"Hannah was about the most accepting, most including person I've ever met," Bell said. "She's really made a mark on all of us."