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Two Family Members Who Died In Car Accident Remembered By Loved Ones

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CHAPEL HILL — A drunk driver is accused of causing the death of a Chapel Hill firefighter and his 13-year-old daughter. Many people are grieving for a family that touched so many lives.

Alyshia Sznerch attended eighth grade at Blessed Sacrament in Burlington. On Monday, her friends remembered and grieved the young woman with a quick smile and generous spirit.

"It has been not the loss of a student and her dad, but the loss of someone in the family," says principal George Boschini. "She didn't feel as if she was a good enough friend or good enough in the classroom, whereas the children saw her as someone who went above and beyond what would be expected."

The Sznerch family was on their way to a memorial service for a relative in Florida early Saturday morning when a drunk driver cut them off on the highway, sending the family van rolling out of control.

Alyshia's brother, Nick, and her mother, Cathleen, were injured in the accident. Cathleen was a teacher's assistant at Blessed Sacrament. Outside Nick's first-grade classroom, students wrote messages of prayer and hopes for healing.

At Fire Station No. 3 in Chapel Hill, they are mourning the loss of a friend and colleague. Peter Sznerch joined the department in 1998.

"He was a pleasure to have around, not only because of his personality, but also because of his skills. He was a very skilled tradesman," says Deputy Chief Robert Bosworth.

Sznerch helped make renovations at the fire department and at his children's school -- the kind of person that his friends say touched lives and made a difference.

"I truly can say I will miss Pete just because of what he brought to my life in the two years I've known him," Bosworth says.

Alyshia's mother agreed to donate her daughter's organs. Seven organs were used to help others.

Diana Jimenez, the driver of the car that caused the accident, has been charged with driving drunk, manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident. Jimenez, 22, was a first-year teacher in Florida.

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Christine Rogers, Reporter
Adrienne Traxinger, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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