A Calico Rock bus driver placed a flower on the empty seat usually occupied by 11-year-old Angel Jessica Lee Nalley who died in a car accident Sept. 28.
Students and staff are coping after receiving word that a fellow classmate at Calico Rock Elementary School died as a result of injuries she sustained in a one-vehicle accident on Boswell Road, six miles south of Calico Rock.
The accident occurred when Nalley's mother, Shelly Nalley, 40, lost control of her 1989 Ford Ranger pickup truck while traveling north on Boswell Road, according to the Izard County Sheriff's Office. Mrs. Nalley was attempting to negotiate a curve and apparently slid on gravel, skidded to the right side of the road and then back to the left, crossed the road, struck some small trees then overturned, said Izard County Sheriff Joe Martz.
Nalley was a passenger in the front seat and was pinned under the vehicle, said Martz.
She was pronounced dead at the scene due to neck injuries, said Izard County Deputy Coroner Michelle Howard.
Mrs. Nalley was transported by AET Ambulance Service to the Community Medical Center in Calico Rock where she was treated and released, according to a hospital spokesman.
Martz was the investigating officer, assisted by the Calico Rock and Ruthie Mountain volunteer fire departments and Trooper Todd Shaw of the Arkansas State Police.
Elementary principal Debbie Moore said Nalley had attended Calico Rock School since kindergarten. She said Nalley enjoyed art class and drawing. "We never saw Angel without a smile," she said.
Moore said it was not uncommon for Nalley to hug staff members who were walking along the corridors; she was an affectionate child, even though Moore described her as shy. "I've watched her grow up. It's very hard," she said.
School counselor Judy Eldridge remembers Nalley as a student with a zest for living. She said Nalley loved to wear frilly dresses and recalled one day in particular when she came to school with a frilly dress and twirled around making those around her laugh; her enthusiasm was contagious.
Eldridge said Nalley also loved to read in front of the class.
Students received grief counseling Monday and sessions will continue throughout the week.
Moore said Nalley was a friend to many; numerous students have attended counseling because of the accident. Moore said the concept of death can be difficult for a child because in a child's mind a friend isn't supposed to die.
She said counselors are being completely honest with students and trying to dispel any fears associated with death. Moore said area ministers have also volunteered but so far counselors and administration have been able to cope with the situation.
Students are being prepared for the return of Nalley's three siblings who will be returning to school possibly this week, Moore said.
Moore said students are planning a memorial service at the elementary school Oct. 6 at 12:30 p.m. Staff and students will gather around the flagpole and plant bulbs in a garden students have designated as Angel's Garden.
Balloons will also be released at the service.
Eldridge said students made the family a poster and a picture book. Students are busy writing good-bye letters and poems to the family. Some of the teachers took up a collection and brought goods to the family Monday night.
The service will be a closure for students, Eldridge added.
The family is no stranger to heartache, said Eldridge. Nalley's infant brother, Christopher Briggs, died prematurely, and her sister, Patricia Nalley, drowned along with an aunt who attempted to save her.
At press time no memorial service was planned, according to Eddie's Family Funeral Home.