By Mary O’KEEFE
It was a pizza party with Rosemont Middle School seventh graders and Glendale police on Wednesday at their school – a celebration of generosity and a teacher’s example of caring.
“We had just finished teaching ‘A Christmas Carol’ [by Charles Dickens] and had heard about Angelique,” said Shannon Kracker, Rosemont English teacher.
Angelique (in respect of the family’s wishes their last name has not been released by the GPD) is the young Crescenta Valley High School student who, with her father Ruben, was a victim in the horrific auto accident that occurred on Oct. 21, 2015.
“‘A Christmas Carol’ is about caring for the less fortunate and caring for those in need, and I thought this was a perfect opportunity to tie this to this great piece of literature,” Kracker said.
She reached out to her class of seventh grade English 175 students.
“I challenged each of our kids to bring in a $5 gift card from Jo-Ann’s [fabric store] because Angelique wanted craft items to do while recovering,” Kracker said. “So my fabulous kids overwhelmed me with hundreds of $5 gift cards.”
In addition to the pizza party for the kids, the GPD has chosen Kracker as the recipient of the Community Service Award in recognition of her support for the family.
The GPD and community have been supportive toward the family since the accident occurred, especially during the holidays, so the timing for the gift cards was perfect. Angelique is improving but is still on crutches and is still being home schooled. Her father is also improving and has gone back to work.
“It’s really great that everybody cares,” Angelique said.
Although still in therapy she said she is feeling better, is happy and looking forward to going back to CVHS next school year.
The accident occurred at about 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 21. The vehicle driven by Ruben was traveling westbound on Foothill Boulevard when it collided with a van that was traveling southbound on New York Avenue. The driver of the van, in his 20s, lost control of his vehicle due to brake failure. He reportedly had minor injuries. The accident continues to be under investigation.
The force of the collision caused the compact vehicle driven by Ruben to crash into a utility pole on the southwest side of the intersection; the force was so powerful that the vehicle bent around the pole. Glendale Fire Dept. personnel worked with the jaws of life to free the father and daughter who were trapped inside the vehicle.
On the day of the accident GPD Officer Bryan Duncan and Officer William Estrada were the first on scene. Officer Ernesto Torres and Officer Josh Luna arrived in time to see the firefighters removing the vehicle’s door, and that was the first time they saw Angelique.
“It was a traumatic accident,” Luna said.
Angelique was airlifted to the hospital.
“It’s promising to see how [well] she is doing,” he said. “She is [continuing] with her [physical] therapy and is doing well in school … she is right on track.”
But Kracker and her class did not stop with Jo-Ann’s gift cards. They wanted to do something more.
“We asked the family what else we could do. They were so humble, they said, ‘We are good,’” Kracker said. “They [asked] if we could help the other kids at Children’s Hospital.”
And so the class once again generously donated for other children – children they didn’t know and would never meet but on behalf of Angelique and her family.
The family was presented with coloring books and crayons, and several iTune cards for the older kids in the hospital.
Angelique’s aunt Kimberly Evans was overwhelmed.
“It was a difficult time, as you could imagine,” said Evans. “Thank you. Your hearts have really touched us and now [you] will touch kids who are feeling alone in the hospital.”
Officer Duncan also addressed the kids.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” he said.
He told the kids about the car accident and explained the officers on the stage were the first responders.
“Frankly, Angelique, we didn’t know if you were going to make it,” Duncan said. “You have been given a second chance in life.”
Duncan pledged that not only will the kids continue to support the family but so would the GPD and the Glendale Police Association.
“We are glad that you are here,” he said.
Kracker’s entire class and GPD then took a photo with Angelique and her aunt.
“It is really heartwarming to see all these kids and that they would care about me,” Angelique said.