Stefani was a fun loving girl. She would always make you laugh and smile. She absolutely loved children. She always would help out at her little brother’s Head Start program and said when she was done with school she wanted to be a school director for Head Start.

On the morning of January 5, 2009, Stefani and two other friends were supposed to be going to school on the bus, but instead they got into a car with a boy who was waiting for them at the bus stop. They were driving fast and hoping their parents wouldn’t catch them. They were racing in front of the school bus and, about 1/4 mile down the road, the young driver ran a stop sign at a five-way crossroad. They were hit head-on by a truck coming down the highway. The car flipped and rolled several times. None of the kids had seat belts on and the driver was killed instantly when the motor crushed him.

Stefani was also in the front seat at the time of the crash and was tossed about when the car rolled. A witness at the crash scene said she was dead, but then ‘came back’. Stefani was then taken by helicopter to a hospital and went into surgery, but was declared brain dead the next day, January 6, 2009. Stefani left behind her parents Gustavo and Rosario Ortiz and four brothers, Eulisis, Gustavo, Jr., Jose Antonio, and her little sidekick, Leonel. Stefani’s parents donated her good organs and because of that, three people we know of have extended lives. The other two girls in the back were severely injured but survived the accident. They will have life-long problems.

A word from Stefani’s brother, Gustavo, Jr.: “I remember the call and the look on my Mom’s face. Me and my older brother, Eulisis, ran up to the accident site. I didn’t recognize the car. It looked like a crushed can. I didn’t want to believe it. I was hoping it was all a nightmare. They wouldn’t let us near the site and we told them we thought our sister was in the car. They let us through and I saw my sister in the ambulance. It didn’t look like her. She was so swollen and bruised up. I remember seeing her at the hospital and we had told her everything will be okay, even though she never regained consciousness. I felt that she wasn’t going to make it but didn’t want to voice my feelings to the rest of my family. The next day the doctors pronounced her dead and took her off of life support. I miss her very much, we all do, and there is not a day that goes by that we don’t think about her.”

Me and my older brother, Eulisis, ran up to the accident site. I didn‘t recognize the car. It looked like a crushed can. I didn’t want to believe it. I was hoping it was all a nightmare.

2009 Teen Memoriam
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