Students plan memorials for Hilton Head Island teen

rheaton@beaufortgazette.comJanuary 10, 2012 

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When Hilton Head Island High School seniors graduate this spring, one seat among the robed Seahawks will be empty: The seat that would have belonged to Estefany Arce-Castro.

Principal Amanda O'Nan said that was just one of several ways Arce-Castro's fellow students and friends have planned to memorialize the 18-year-old who died Thursday in a single-car crash on Interstate 95 in Georgia.

O'Nan said a handful of students who met this weekend planned several ways to remember Arce-Castro. Her name will be read at graduation, and a yearbook page will be dedicated to her. O'Nan said students also are working to find a donor for a plaque and tree to be planted in her honor.

Arce-Castro was thrown from the 2003 Ford Expedition driven by her mother Thursday afternoon when one of its tires blew. Karla Casto-Salazar, 34, lost control of the vehicle, which overturned several times.

Arce-Castro, who was not wearing a seat belt, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Though she was a junior, Arce-Castro had accelerated her studies and planned to graduate this year.

Several fundraisers are in the works to help Arce-Castro's family with funeral and medical expenses. A Mass was celebrated, and Arce-Castro was buried Tuesday.

Students will sell bracelets and will be permitted to wear Seahawks T-shirts and jeans one day next week if they donate a few dollars to the family.

A dodge ball tournament scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at the school was supposed to raise money for the senior class. Instead, registration fees and donations will be given to Arce-Castro's family.

O'Nan said Arce-Castro's sister, Yariela, is home from Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, where she had been hospitalized for chest injuries.

Follow reporter Rachel Heaton at twitter.com/HomeroomBft.

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