Local News

Community Rallies To Support Family Of Fike H.S. Student

Posted February 26, 2003

— A local community is doing what it can to support the family of a Wilson high school student who died in a car crash, leaving behind a 6-month-old daughter.

Melissa Hernandez was just months from graduation at Fike High School. Last week, troopers say the 18-year old mother died when she accidently swerved into oncoming traffic on Highway 264.

"She was an enjoyable person and she had more drive than most 18-year-olds because she had been through so much," teacher Carol Clark said.

Hernandez's school is raising money for her funeral. Last September, she gave birth to a little girl and was working hard to graduate on time.

"She still came to school and she was going to try to finish up, and she left for a bit and came back. She was going to do it. She was going to graduate this year," said David Villareal, Hernandez's friend.

Hernandez's supporters said they wanted to help because of her hard work and her family's circumstances. Four years ago, her family's home was destroyed in a flood. They moved to another place, but last year that new place burned down.

Robert Ortiz said he has never met Hernandez, but he is helping to drum up support after hearing her story.

"We're hoping the community comes together as one as we can make it happen for this family," he said.

Hernandez's funeral cost more than $6,000. Ortiz said supporters have raised about $1,500 so far. Ortiz also said supporters want to establish a trust fund for Hernandez's baby.

Hernandez leaves behind a lot of friends in Wilson. She had been in the public school system since at least the fourth grade.

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