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Goodbye, Rachael

Goodbye, Rachael

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RACINE - Mary Jo Gibney's lips trembled as she remembered her 15-year-old daughter so abruptly taken from her.

"She's my baby," she said in a soft voice before turning to a ready shoulder for a hug Thursday night at North Beach.

About 50 friends and family gathered in front of a small memorial dedicated to Rachael Andersen to say their final goodbyes.

Andersen, of Avon, Ill., formerly of Racine, and Anissa Morgan, 15, of Racine, were killed in a rollover crash April 3 near Avon.

"I couldn't believe it," Gibney said. "I fell to the ground - I couldn't believe my girl was gone."

Unable to be alone in the house where just the two of them had lived, Gibney was in Racine staying with family and visiting friends. She planned to return to Avon Saturday. Gibney teared as she thought about returning home, to the house Andersen had pitched in to help her buy.

"It's going to be lonely without her," she said.

She would take me to the park and do my hair, remembered niece Amya Martinez, 10, of Racine.

"And then we would have fights," she said, drawing laughs among the tears.

Friends and family cried and laughed as they said prayers for Rachael and shared their memories of her.

Two of Andersen's friends from elementary school, Mikayla Stackman, 15, and Abby Radwill, 16, both of Racine, had planned the candlelight vigil for those who didn't get a chance to say goodbye at Andersen's funeral in Illinois last week.

Andersen was a sophomore at Horlick High School before she moved to Avon a few months ago. Morgan, also a Horlick sophomore, was visiting her best friend Andersen in Avon for spring break.

Two more teens from Avon, including the 16-year-old driver Meagan Markely, were seriously injured in the crash. They had both been released from hospitals as of this week.

The vehicle the four girls were riding in was reportedly traveling at a high rate of speed that Saturday night when the driver lost control and went off the road, cutting a utility pole almost in two and becoming airborne. The car then rolled over several times and three of the four teens inside the vehicle were ejected during the crash.

Drugs and alcohol were not involved, police said. Charges are pending for Markely. Police said the accident, possibly one of the worst in the area in decades, was still under investigation.

Raeann DeGroot, 16, of Racine, knelt in front of the memorial for her best friend, her shoulders shaking with sobs.

"I told her I loved her," she said after. "And that she would always be remembered, that she would never be forgotten."

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