European edition, Friday, June 1, 2007

KATTERBACH, Germany — Tall, blonde and slender, she was known as “Barbie†in the halls of Ansbach Middle/High School. On Friday, her friends will remember her as a 17-year-old who died far too soon.

Killed Monday night in a single-car accident on Bundesstrasse 13 near Illesheim, Katherine “Katie†Kimmel was just a week away from graduating high school. The cause of the accident remains under investigation.

“When it first happened, everyone took it in their own way. You know, everyone handles things like this differently ... it made people realize the things we take for granted,†Baraka Waweru, 18, one of Kimmel’s classmates, said in Ansbach High’s Senior Hallway on Thursday.

“This is a small school. Here at Ansbach, things like this don’t usually happen like they would at normal schools,†Waweru added.

In addition to the tragic loss of Kimmel, and the injuries sustained in the accident Monday by her best friend Carolina Larmeu, 18, who is still in the hospital, at least 60 percent of the 38 seniors have soldier parents deploying with the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade to Iraq for 15 months right now.

“We’re hoping she’ll be able to walk (during graduation),†Waweru said of his prom date Larmeu, adding that the majority of her classmates have been visiting her in the hospital.

Four of Kimmel’s schoolmates, including senior Kayla Eidson, 17, and sophomores Amber Mack, 16, and Joshlyn Learn, 15, have organized a memorial at 1:50 p.m. Friday in the school’s cafeteria.

After a planning meeting for the service, the three talked about their friend and why they wanted to do this for her. “She was a really happy person, very outgoing. She always tried to have a good time,†Mack said.

Learn added that Kimmel came from a large family, with three brothers and two sisters. Kimmel had been accepted to the University of Tennessee, and was planning on moving there June 18, both to be with her mother and to prepare for college.

A multisport athlete, Kimmel participated in volleyball, basketball, soccer and cheerleading during her three years at Ansbach High, said Eidson, who had gotten to know her friend through sports.

“We’re going to get up (during the ceremony) tomorrow and say what we feel. We want everyone to know what kind of person she was,†Eidson said. “We want to remember the good times we had with her.â€

The ceremony will begin seating at 1:30 p.m. It will include a slideshow put to music, anecdotes and quotes from Kimmel’s friends, and releasing of balloons at the end. “Whoever felt close to Katie,†is invited, her friends said, adding finally, “please keep (Kimmel and Larmeu) and their families in your prayers.â€

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