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OHS Students See Somber Start To Year
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Photo Contributed
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Preston Brunk, shown, along with lifelong friend Bastian Jimenez (not pictured) worked their way through the crowd Friday night at the Concert in the Park, filling buckets with money for the Evangelista family, who lost dad Hector and daughter Giselle in a tragic auto accident on Aug. 7. Teresa Hammond/The Leader

Losing a schoolmate just two days before starting the new school year, counselors were on hand for Thursday’s opening day on the campus of Oakdale High School, Aug. 9.

A Tuesday night collision involving two vehicles on Patterson Road, just west of Langworth Road between Oakdale and Riverbank, claimed the life of an Oakdale teen and her father.

The crash occurred about 7:20 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 7 as Giselle Evangelista, 16, of Oakdale was driving a 2000 Toyota westbound on Patterson Road, and for an unknown reason, veered into the other lane, corrected and returned to the westbound lane, then abruptly turned back into the eastbound lane and into the path of an oncoming vehicle. Giselle and her father, Hector, 45, were both pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. The driver of the other vehicle, a 32-year-old Oakdale woman, and three juvenile passengers – ranging in age from six- to 11-years-old – were taken to Memorial Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries.

Giselle would have started her junior year at OHS on Thursday; she was involved in soccer and track and field, among other activities on campus.

“The whole situation is heart-breaking and we are all devastated,” said Oakdale High School soccer coach Grace Fernandes. “For some students this is the first time they have faced death, and are having a very difficult time with the emotions that can bring. The soccer team will wear black arm bands in Giselle’s honor this upcoming season.”

A variety of community support for the family has also been seen in recent days; a weekend car wash helped raise money to defray funeral expenses for the father and daughter. The local Cocina Michoacana restaurant had an all-day fundraiser on Tuesday, allocating a portion of proceeds from food sales to the family, and an impromptu collection at the Friday night, Aug. 10 Concert in the Park brought in over $1,100 for the family as well.

Fernandes said those efforts will all help, but she knows the healing will take time.

“Giselle was a very outgoing student, and always smiling. She loved to joke, laugh, and make those around her happy. She wasn’t afraid to embarrass herself if it made someone laugh,” Fernandes pointed out.

Authorities investigating the crash said all involved were wearing their seatbelts but the force of the impact as the westbound Toyota and the eastbound 2014 Dodge collided head on at roughly 45 mils per hour, pushed the Toyota off the roadway, where it overturned, coming to rest on its side in a drainage ditch. Passersby attempted to assist the Evangelista father and daughter out of the vehicle but were unable to get them out due to the extent of damage to the vehicle.

A gofundme page has been set up for the family, in addition to the various community fundraising events.

For those at the high school who knew Giselle, Fernandes said there were counselors on hand to help students that needed to talk about her loss.

Teammates also had some thoughts to share.

“I remember everyone being mad at losing a game, but Giselle would always be the one to cheer us all up and say we would win next time,” remembered teammate Jenna Mclenson.

“My favorite memories with Giselle were the bus rides home because no matter if we won or lost she was always so positive, that was just her. She was an amazing classmate, teammate, and most importantly a great friend to everyone,” added teammate Arianna Lopes.

Fernandes said she will always remember the teen, who made an impact in a short time.

“You always knew when she was in the room because she was pretty loud in the best way. She was filled with love, and those that knew her loved her also. She was always respectful, kind, and encouraging,” Fernandes noted. “She will be greatly missed, and our thoughts are with her family during this difficult time.”