Minutes after classes ended Friday at an Upper Bucks County high school, a student walking home was accidentally struck and killed by a car driven by a classmate.
The tragic crash has shaken the close-knit community of towns like Kintnersville and Upper Black Eddy, about an hour north of Philadelphia, where public school students attend the same schools and nearly everyone knows the family names of the student who died and the student whose car hit her.
Junior Haley Yarmark, 17, was jogging home from Palisades High School, with her headphones plugged in, police said. As she headed east on rural Church Hill Road in Kintnersville about 2:40 p.m., she moved toward the center of the narrow road in an apparent attempt to cross over. A car driven by Clayton Kienzle, 17, struck and killed her.
State police at Dublin who were still investigating the crash yesterday said that when Kienzle, also a junior, saw Yarmark crossing the road, he swerved and tried to avoid hitting her. But the front of his 1992 Volkswagen Golf struck her; she was pronounced dead at the scene.
Kienzle and the two passengers in his car, who were all wearing seat belts, were not injured, state police said.
Yarmark was "Fuzz" to her friends, a nickname she earned for her curly hair.
"She was just an amazing young woman," said Ralph "Cookie" Caldwell, program coordinator of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Young Friends, a Quaker group in which Yarmark had been active for six years.
"She was fun and vibrant and often the clown. She also played music, piano," he said. "We would have skits at conferences and talent shows and she would play classical music. Then she'd turn around and do skits that were pure comic."
Yarmark was active in her local meeting, Solebury Friends Meeting in New Hope, where a memorial service is planned for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
"She was caring about people. She was part of the Bucks County Peace Fair for the last three years. She was just an all-around . . .." Caldwell said, his voice breaking with emotion. "When you asked for help doing things, she was one of the first people to volunteer. She was just delightful. She was one of my favorite kids."
Caldwell said two lives had been ruined.
"The boy who killed her, he's going to live with that the rest of his life. It's just a tragedy all around," he said.
Palisades school officials called a team of counselors and psychologists to the high school to offer grief counseling until 7 p.m. Friday and on Saturday.
Counselors will be at the high school again today to talk to any of the nearly 700 students who want to.
"It's a very, very sad time in the Palisades community," said Palisades School District Superintendent Francis V. Barnes, who visited the crash scene twice on Friday.
Yarmark enjoyed music and was writing a song, using technology to publish it, he said.
"We extend our love, condolences and prayers to the family and her friends, as well as to the other student who was involved in the accident and his family and friends," Barnes said. "It's an amazing community and I know we're going to rally around both families."
School board member Stephen Kunkel said he was at a firehouse breakfast yesterday morning where there was a collection for Yarmark's family.
"It's just terrible," he said. "It brings a tear to my eye every time I think about it. Every kid is so precious."
School board member Michael Lynch said, "This has sent shock waves through our community. We have a wonderful little idyllic district. These things don't tend to happen very much around here."
Kintnersville is the kind of small community where most people know the Yarmark and Kienzle families "or they would know somebody who knows them," he said.
"We have one high school, one middle school, and three elementary schools. Especially at the high school, everybody knows everybody else. You might not be their best friend, but you certainly know their face, you know their name. It's that close of a community."